Integrating ecological and economic aspects in land use concepts for agricultural landscapes

Heinz Ahrens, Jochen Kantelhardt

Published: 04.04.2007  〉 Jahrgang 56 (2007), Heft 3  〉 Resort: Articles 
Submitted: N. A.   〉 Feedback to authors after first review: N. A.   〉 Accepted: N. A.


Especially in environmentally sensitive agricultural landscapes, agriculture cannot define its aims by itself - it has to account for a number of demands of different groups of society. For example, agriculture is expected to produce food and at the same time contribute to the protection of cultural landscapes and to further ecological services.

Land use concepts for ecologically particularly sensitive agricultural landscapes are often focussed on the attainment of specific environmental objectives in specific areas, neglecting both socio-economic effects, in particular income effects, and the farmers' income-driven production responses outside these areas.

The paper illustrates, on the basis of an empirical study, (1) that the farmers' objectives and production responses need to be integrated in land use concepts for agricultural landscapes because of their potentially counterproductive effects on the attainment of environmental objectives, and (2) how multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) can be used to transform a primarily ecology-oriented concept for an ecologically very sensitive agricultural landscape into a more comprehensive one that makes due allowance for the farmers’ responses and society's socio-economic objectives. The authors show that the integration of socio-economic objectives can contribute to the maintenance of incomes and employment without overly harming the attainment of ecological goals.

Finally, the paper discusses policy implications resulting from the implementation of land use concepts for agricultural landscapes, in particular in the field of agri-environmental policy, and raises some practical issues that come up if policy makers apply MCDA more widely in the design of such concepts.

Corresponding author:
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Planning
06099 Halle (Saale)
phone: 03 45-55 22 400, fax: 03 45-55 27 112
Download Cover