Intensification of New Zealand agriculture: Implications for biodiversity
Moller, Henrik; MacLeod, Catriona; Haggerty, Julia; Rosin, Chris; Blackwell, Grant; Perley, Chris; Meadows, Sarah; Weller, Florian; Gradwohl, Markus
Intensification of New Zealand agricultural practices is an ongoing and accelerating process which potentially threatens the environment, biodiversity and even the sustainability of agricultural production. However, neither the exact nature of this threat nor the extent of its impact has received adequate analysis. There is clear evidence that agricultural intensification has degraded aquatic biodiversity, but there is a critical lack of research and monitoring of robust indicators of terrestrial biodiversity in New Zealand production landscapes. Therefore, we can only infer a generalised likelihood that intensification has also reduced terrestrial biodiversity and agro‐ecosystem resilience. It is unknown whether biodiversity and ecological services provided by the actual land growing crops, pasture or wood fibre are degrading because of intensification. Increased use of ecological subsidies (nutrient and energy inputs) may have compensated, at least in part, for the increased rate of food production (nutrient and energy outputs). Lasting practical solutions to enhance sustainability can only be identified by long‐term transdisciplinary research of ecological disturbance in agro‐ecosystems. Working with intensification to identify environmental and social gains at the same time as capturing economic efficiencies is more likely to support biodiversity than simply attempting to stem or reverse intensification. A change in world view of both rural and urban dwellers, from the predominant philosophy that allocates land to either preservation or production to one that promotes sustainable land‐use practices that integrate extractive resource use with conservation, is the key to mitigating impacts of agricultural intensification in modified landscapes.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Rights Statement: © The Royal Society of New Zealand 2008
Keywords: biodiversity conservation; intensification; indicators; New Zealand agriculture
Research Type: Journal Article