Abolition of set-aside schemes, associated impacts on habitat structure and modelling of potential effects of cross-farm regulation

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In intensively farmed regions, habitat fragmentation represents a major pressure on biodiversity. Depending on its spatial setting, set-aside land can increase size and connectivity of habitats and thus counteract fragmentation. In 2008, the EU-wide set-aside obligation was suspended and a large proportion of set-aside land was re-cultivated. With Denmark as case we apply an indicator to measure the effect of set-aside land on spatial structure of semi-natural habitats in term of habitat size and connectivity. Furthermore, we model effects of a hypothetical spatial regulation, where set-aside land with the greatest benefit for habitat structure is retained as uncultivated, while set-aside land with the least effect is re-cultivated. The model is applied to individual farms and to farm agglomerations of increasing sizes, enabling us to explore potential effects of cross-farm regulation. The novelty of our approach is the application of observed land-uses changes for modelling a hypothetical regulation working on a range of spatial scales. Results show that after abolition of set-aside schemes the effect of set-aside land on habitat structure was more than halved. Modelled spatial regulation considerably reduces impacts. Effects increase with increasing size of farm agglomerations. However, marginal benefits become negligible at agglomeration sizes over 36 km(2). (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number22
Pages (from-to)2728-2737
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • Set-aside land, Habitat structure, Spatial structure indicator, Land-use change, Land-use modelling, Cross-farm regulation, AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES, BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION, SPECIES RICHNESS, DIVERSITY, LAND, HETEROGENEITY, POPULATIONS, COOPERATION, INCENTIVES, INTENSITY

ID: 34517348