Project: SusTaining AgriCultural ChAnge Through ecological engineering and Optimal use of natural resources

In order to advance long-term sustainable development of land use systems, against risks arising from multiple aspects of global change, STACCATO plans to quantify the dependence of ecosystem functions (ESF) and the services (ESS) they generate on environmental pressures in representative agriculturally dominated landscapes in Europe. The focus is on local as well as regional land use intensity (including the socio- economic background) and biodiversity, and the potential impacts of future climate and land use change. Following the framework of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), we define supporting services as ESF and deal with selected characteristic elements of 2 of the 3 service strands defined by the MEA, namely a) Provisioning Services (PS): nutrient cycling & crop production; b) Regulating Services (RS): biocontrol & pollination; and c) Cultural Services (CS): identity with cultural landscapes. Studies are planned in representative regions across Europe, in landscapes along a gradient reflecting changing geo-climatic and land use intensity, and socio-economic conditions. Focus will be on landscapes shaped by annual crops and/or semi-natural grasslands. In particular it intends to investigate the interactions between annual crops and the surrounding landscapes in the light of ecological engineering as a tool for eco-functional intensification. Ecological Engineering is an emerging discipline, concerned with design, monitoring and construction of agro-ecosystems in order to maximise ecosystem services through exploiting natural regulation mechanisms instead of suppressing them. The overall objective is the elaboration and testing of generally applicable principles within the frame of ecological engineering. STACCATO will develop valuations of ESS through monetary and non-monetary methods. The most meaningful monetary costs to be calculated are (potential) damage costs (e.g. due to losses in production, biocontrol or pollination), management/repair costs (e.g. hand pollination after loss of pollinators), and avoidance cost (precautionary measures) as these manifest themselves in real markets. STACCATO will test and improve already existing indicators for ESF/ESS and their values - building upon but going beyond existing indicators sets like those of the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) and the SEBI (Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators). Beyond the applicability of the existing ones, specific integrative indicators for each of the strands will be tested for their suitability, e.g., the diversity of indicator plants (incl. weeds; PS/RS), pollinators (incl. butterflies), and natural enemies of crop pests (RS). As core output, STACCATO will develop guidelines for optimising ESF/ESS and their stabilisation under future climate and land use change. STACCATO will analyse the potential of ecological engineering as a tool for eco-functional intensification to achieve this. Ecological engineering can in principle be applied in conventional and integrated as well as organic agriculture. STACCATO will test the implementation and transferability across regions. The latter is to be achieved through inclusion e.g., of local agricultural agencies and extension services as associated partners. Implementation will include assessments of ESS risks and opportunities in the light of changes in land use intensity accompanied by the loss of natural and semi-natural habitats, biodiversity and climate.

Duration 01/04/2015 - 30/09/2018
Website visit project website
Network BiodivERsA2
Call Promoting Synergies and Reducing Trade-offs Between Food Supply, Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (Joint Call between BiodivERs and FACCE-JPI)

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
Agriculture University of Plovdiv Bulgaria
Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
Babeş-Bolyai University Romania
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Animal Diversity and Resources Bulgaria
Butterfly Conservation Europe Netherlands
Central Saxony Germany
Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania Romania
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research Coordinator Germany
Lund University Sweden
Pensoft Publishers Ltd Bulgaria
Sapientia University Romania
Saxon State Agency for Environment, Agriculture and Geology Germany
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research Switzerland