Impacts of conservation agriculture on services provided by Mediterranean agro-ecosystems

Agricultural production in the Mediterranean region is challenged by both climate change and socio-economic factors that might lead to accelerated land degradation and severe loss of ecosystem services. Climate change is likely to lead to increasing water stress in the region leading to drought related loss of agricultural production and severe damage to natural and semi-natural ecosystems. At the same time, unsustainable rural land management has already degraded soil and water quality. Conservation agriculture might be an option to mitigate the consequences of these developments. A recent study under involvement of the GIScience group has analyzed the effect of several conservation agricultural practices on multiple ecosystem services in a meta-analysis of 155 published case studies. The effects differed by ecosystem service group as well as by management practice. Conservation practices – with the exception of irrigation – had positive effects on all regulating services. Provisioning services showed mixed effects of conservation management. Overall, effects of conservation agriculture on ecosystem services have been more positive than negative. This supports the hypothesis that a stimulation of conservation agriculture is a promising option for environmental management in the Mediterranean region.

Lee, H., Lautenbach, S., Nieto, A.P.G., Bondeau, A., Cramer, W., Geijzendorfer, I.R. Reg Environ Change (2019).

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