Cultivated Lands

Authored by: Tobias Plieninger , Christopher M. Raymond , Elisa Oteros-Rozas

Routledge Handbook of Ecosystem Services

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138025080
eBook ISBN: 9781315775302
Adobe ISBN:


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Cultivated landscapes are – together with urban lands – those biomes that have undergone the strongest degree of human impact. They cover approximately 38% of the global land area (Foley et al., 2011). By definition, cultivated lands are managed for a small number of agricultural crops that can be used for different purposes, such as food, feed, fibre or energy. Many cultivated lands provide important market and non-market ecosystem services. These benefits have been captured under the umbrella of “multifunctionality”, a normative term that underpins many current agricultural support policies of OECD member countries. Multifunctional agriculture acknowledges that agriculture has several functions beyond the production of agricultural commodities, such as landscape aesthetics, biodiversity conservation and contribution to the socio-economic viability of rural areas (Renting et al., 2009). Central to multifunctionality is the assumption that non-marketed ecosystem services can be produced jointly with agricultural goods, being in a complementary rather than competitive relationship.

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