Europe will face increasing pressure on agricultural systems due to increasing global food demands, competing claims on land resources and decreasing possibilities to displace production outside Europe. Increasing demands from society for a range of ecosystem services and biodiversity protection call for transitions towards intensive agricultural systems that have minimal detrimental environmental effects. As a response to these major societal challenges, sustainable intensification (SI) is gaining attention. SI cannot be implemented through a generic, single development pathway for all agricultural systems. Alternative trajectories and actions to achieve SI depend on the local and contextual agronomic, environmental and socio-economic conditions. The project VITAL explores transition processes of European agricultural systems towards sustainably intensified production. VITAL identifies how differences in agricultural systems, their spatial frameworks and the role of actors, lead to, or inhibit, alternate transition processes of SI. The feasibility of different SI pathways is upscaled across Europe, hence moving beyond the level of individual farms and regions. Suitable spatial configurations of SI across land use systems are identified, accounting for the landscape and regional context.
Methods and materials
VITAL combines spatial and empirical analysis with participatory research. In four case study areas, we identify drivers, triggers and constraints for SI using social network analysis, surveys, and spatial analysis of landscape structure and functioning. These analyses are in the end upscaled to European scale. Throughout the project, the stakeholder community in the four case study areas is closely involved – from defining the exact scope of sustainable intensification to defining and upscaling the relevant pathways towards sustainable intensification.
Dr ir C.J.E. Nynke Schulp
VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
UNIVERSIDAD POLITECNICA DE VALENCIA, Spain
Agrathaer GmbH, Germany
Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF) e.V, Germany