Research ArticleECOLOGY

A social-ecological analysis of ecosystem services supply and trade-offs in European wood-pastures

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Science Advances  02 May 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 5, eaar2176
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar2176

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Wood-pastures are complex social-ecological systems (SES), which are the product of long-term interaction between society and its surrounding landscape. Traditionally characterized by multifunctional low-intensity management that enhanced a wide range of ecosystem services (ES), current farm management has shifted toward more intensive farm models. This study assesses the supply of ES in four study areas dominated by managed wood-pastures in Spain, Sweden, and Romania. On the basis of 144 farm surveys and the use of multivariate techniques, we characterize farm management and structure in the study areas and identify the trade-offs in ES supply associated with this management. We link these trade-offs to multiple factors that characterize the landholding: economic, social, environmental, technological, and governance. Finally, we analyze how landholders’ values and perspectives have an effect on management decisions. Results show a differentiated pattern of ES supply in the four study areas. We identified four types of trade-offs in ES supply that appear depending on what is being promoted by the farm management and that are associated with different dimensions of wood-pasture management: productivity-related trade-offs, crop production–related trade-offs, multifunctionality-related trade-offs, and farm accessibility–related trade-offs. These trade-offs are influenced by complex interactions between the properties of the SES, which have a direct influence on landholders’ perspectives and motivations. The findings of this paper advance the understanding of the dynamics between agroecosystems and society and can inform system-based agricultural and conservation policies.

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