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Bloemenpanorama Maurice van Bruggen.jpg Functional biodiversity, cultivated diversity, seeds, old breeds and varieties, mixed farming, agro-ecological management, etc.

BiodiversityFunctional biodiversity, cultivated diversity, seeds, old breeds and varieties, mixed farming, agro-ecological management, etc.Bloemenpanorama Maurice van Bruggen.jpg

Biodiversity is defined as"the diversity of living organisms, which is assessed by considering the diversity of species, the diversity of genes within each species, and the organisation and distribution of ecosystems. Interactions within and between each of these three levels of organisation are also considered." [1].

Biodiversity is therefore a ubiquitous component of agricultural ecosystems, and exists there in many forms. This portal describes the main forms of biodiversity present on farms, as well as the impact of certain practices on biodiversity.

Wild" biodiversity

Ecological continuity

The main lever for maintaining biodiversity is at regional level. When landscapes are fragmented by human infrastructure or open spaces, a large number of animal species (often useful in agriculture) see their ability to move around reduced. By extension, this phenomenon contributes to the weakening of their populations, both numerically and genetically.

Example of an ecological network in the Boulonnais bocage - Wikipedia Commons

To remedy this, agriculture has the capacity to play a predominant role in this area, in particular by considering the size of plots, the creation of an ecological network with field edges, hedges and other linear elements (low walls, agroforestry, etc.), as well as the heterogeneity of plots and the mosaic of crops.

Developments favourable to biodiversity

Example of a nesting box for bats - Wikipedia Commons

There is also a wide range of more specific facilities that can be put in place to accommodate wild biodiversity on the farm. These must obviously be considered in relation to the local fauna to be encouraged, and any biological control objectives through conservation. This is the case, for example, with flower strips that are attractive to crop auxiliaries, perches for birds of prey, insect hotels, etc.

While most biodiversity-friendly features are installed in or near fields, some can also be installed in farm buildings. Depending on the region, for example, it may be appropriate to convert barns to provide refuge for certain bird species.

Biodiversity-friendly practices

There are also a large number of farming practices that have a beneficial effect on biodiversity, without this being their primary aim. Generally speaking, the heterogeneity of habitats is a very powerful lever for maintaining the diversity of flora, fauna and soil biodiversity. Agriculture, through its transformation of the landscape and its diversity of practices, contributes to this heterogeneity: diversified crop rotation, plant cover, differentiated tillage, grasslands, ecopastoralism, conservation agriculture, etc.

By slightly adapting certain practices, it is possible to multiply this positive effect, and consequently reduce the negative impact of other interventions: for example, some farmers include environmental impact in their criteria for choosing plant protection products, or implement measures to protect wildlife during harvesting or agricultural work.

As part of integrated crop protection, many practices are also designed to encourage the development of functional biodiversity (crop auxiliaries) and reduce the development of pest populations: the implementation of <a internal_href="Combiner plantes pièges et plantes répulsives : stratégie "push-pull"">"push-pull" strategies</a>, for example, or the composition of attractive plant cover.

Flower strip between two agricultural plots

Cultivated biodiversity

Biodiversity on farms is not confined to the wealth of wild life, but also to that of cultivated or farmed species. In fact, they are very often linked, but cultivated biodiversity and its different levels of interpretation are more rarely highlighted.

Cultivated diversity can be studied from a spatial perspective: at plot level with crop associations or varietal mixes, for example, at farm level with crop rotation diversity, or even at landscape and regional level with the diversity of production and systems (ACS, agroforestry, etc.).

Example of a diversified crop rotation in the Rhine Valley in Germany - Wikipedia Commons

Another way of studying crop biodiversity is thetemporal approach, this time restricted to the scale of crop succession on a plot. There is also work on the selection and conservation of old and less widely used species and varieties.

In the same vein, we could name all the practices linked to farm-saved seeds, or even the breeding of animals of local breeds or of heritage interest.

Protected areas and biodiversity inventories

To find out about the species and sensitive environments around your farm, you can consult a number of associations and maps. Here are the main zones covering France:

Zones Naturelles d'Intérêt Faunistique et Floristique (ZNIEFF)[2]

ZNIEFFs are biodiversity inventories that are generally not subject to any specific regulatory obligations. There are two types of ZNIEFF:

  • Type I ZNIEFF: ecologically homogenous areas defined by the presence of rare, remarkable or characteristic species, species associations or habitats of regional natural heritage. These are the most remarkable areas in a given territory.
  • Type II ZNIEFFs: areas that include functional natural and landscape complexes that are highly cohesive and richer than the surrounding environments.

They are useful for finding out about local flora and fauna and their level of protection, and then considering the measures to be put in place to preserve them.

Natura2000 areasMap[3]

The Natura2000 network is a group of outstanding sites for their biodiversity, aggregated at European level. They are administered by a local steering committee, which examines all construction projects within the perimeter, with the right of refusal or modification. They also have an impact onagriculture, by prohibiting certain practices that are harmful to endangered local species (e.g. turning over meadows, uprooting hedges, etc.), but they can also offer funding and subsidies for the introduction of environmentally-friendly developments and practices.

Biotope protection orders

These prefectoral decrees designate protected areas on a more ad hoc basis, following inventories (such as those for ZNIEFFs, for example) showing that certain species are in critical danger of extinction. Human activities are restricted or even prohibited, depending on the issue.

Map of biotope protection orders in force in 2022 on geoportail: link.

Articles dans cette thématique

  1. INSEE, Biodiversity: definition, adapted from the description of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2021
  2. Inventaire National du Patrimoine Naturel (INPN), Les inventaires ZNIEFF, consulted online in January 2022.
  3. of Natura2000 sites in France, consulted on the Natura2000 resource centre website in January 2022.
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