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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development of Sustainable Production Systems and Water Management Technology for the Mid South Title: Achieving effective landscape conservation: evolving demands adaptive metrics

Authors
item Sassenrath, Gretchen
item Wiener, John -
item Hendrickson, John
item Schneider, Jeanne
item Archer, David

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 22, 2010
Publication Date: December 1, 2010
Citation: Sassenrath, G.F., Wiener, J.D., Hendrickson, J.R., Schneider, J.M., Archer, D.W. 2010. Achieving effective landscape conservation: evolving demands, adaptive metrics, 107-120. In: M. Schnepf, ed. "Managing Agricultural Landscapes for Environmental Quality: Achieving More Effective Conservation." Soil and Water Conservation Society, Ankeny, IA, pp. 168.

Interpretive Summary: Conservation efforts have advanced the science of quantifying changes in environmental parameters. These scientific advances have been the basis for policy and programs regulating agricultural land management. However, rapid changes in on- and off-farm land use limit the impacts of these programs, and present particular challenges to future conservation efforts. The landscape, once predominantly agricultural, has become more fragmented through urban development and conversion of large farms into small parcels of land for non-farm uses. Intensification of agriculture has also created homogenous, spatially distributed farming systems, with increased dependence on external inputs. Demographic shifts have reduced the farming population to two percent of the US, with only 20% of the population classified as rural. These changes have significantly impacted societal expectations of land use and agricultural production, but also influenced the native knowledge of ecosystems and landscapes, and support for conservation policy. A new approach to conservation is emerging in the alternative food production systems. These bottom-up agricultural systems are developing as collaboration between consumers and producers, and are making inroads into establishing sustainable production systems and improved conservation effectiveness in landscapes. Integration of societal concerns will be an important component in future development, implementation and measurement of conservation efforts.

Technical Abstract: Rapid changes in demographics and on- and off-farm land use limit the impacts of U.S. conservation programs and present particular challenges to future conservation efforts. The fragmentation of landscape through urban, suburban, and peri-urban development, coincident with demographic shifts, has significantly affected societal expectations of land use and agricultural production, influencing popular understanding of ecosystems and landscapes and support for conservation policy. A new approach to landscape conservation is needed that encompasses emerging land usage and political realities. Alternative food production systems and bottom-up collaborations between consumers and producers are proposed as a model for the development of locally and socially relevant conservation programs. The emerging paradigm is "collaborative, community-based participatory planning". In particular, conservation goals and integrated metrics of success need to be defined, developed, implemented, and continuously adapted in ongoing local and regional cross-program, landscape-based public efforts.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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