Tailored pathways toward revived farmland biodiversity can inspire agroecological action and policy to transform agriculture

Related GLP Member: Diana Sietz


Advances in agrochemistry in the 19th century, along with increased specialisation and intensification of food production, transformed agriculture triggering a farmland biodiversity crisis. Present economic incentives reinforce this crisis to an unprecedented scale. As the loss of farmland biodiversity undermines the basis of agroecosystems’ productivity and, hence, the sustainability of food systems, another transformation is urgently needed. Here, we advocate a concept of future pathways tailored to the characteristics of agricultural land systems and relate these to targeted farming approaches using agroecological principles. The concept depicts a transformative vision to effectively re-establish farmland biodiversity, a cornerstone of sustainable agriculture. It has the potential to support a systematic refinement of existing biodiversity and agricultural policies to enhance their impact and benefit for people and nature.

Image: Conceptualisation of the general relationship between agricultural production and farmland biodiversity together with tailored pathways toward enhanced farmland biodiversity. a) Declining non-linear relationship between agricultural production and farmland biodiversity. b) Example photographs of agricultural land system types depicting: Type A–Low-intensity livestock system in very diverse mountainous landscape including a protected area in the upper part, southeastern Brazil, Type B–Medium-intensive rice production in diverse landscape with forest remnants, western Philippines, Type C–High-intensity cereal cropping in very simple, homogenised landscape, southern United Kingdom, Type D–Very intensive horticultural production in severely disturbed landscape due to massive greenhouse constructions and agrochemical inputs, southeastern Spain, Type E–Degraded agriculturally marginal land, southern Niger. (Provided by authors under a CC-Attribution 4.0 International license.)