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   Course Title    Landscape and Biological Diversity in Rural Areas
Lecturer    Kalev Sepp, Mari Ivask
Institution    Estonian Agricultural University
Country    Estonia


An approach to understanding biological and landscape diversity. Functional, structural, component diversity. Landscape mosaic patterns - patches, boundaries, edges, corridors. Measuring landscape mosaics. Landscape metrics. Indices. Landscape mosaic and biodiversity. Management problems at different levels. Biodiversity and landscape monitoring.

Relationships between biodiversity and agriculture. Agro-landscape and its values. The impact of agricultural practices on landscape and biodiversity. Defining agricultural sustainability - multiple perspectives. Biodiversity in agricultural landscapes Spatial planning as integral method for biodiversity and landscapes diversity planning. Ecological network. Land transformation and fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation. Land change patterns. Models of contemporary nature conservation practice: management plans for species and protected areas.

Conservation landscape and biodiversity. Theory and conceptual issues. Agriculture and Biological conservation. Conservation of genetic diversity. Biological Diversity in Developing Countries – conservation Policy. International agreements related to biological diversity. Convention on Biological Diversity implementation, Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy, Pan-European Ecological Network, biodiversity supporting international treaties and initiatives. Nature conservation in EU and approximation. Current national conservation policies and processes: NEAPs, NBSAPs, NENs etc.


Aims & Objectives

  1. To understand the roots of biological and landscape diversity.

  2. To discuss the importance of agriculture and rural development in preserving landscape and biological diversity

  3. To gain knowledge of different methods and options of biological and landscape protection measures and monitoring

Teaching style : lectures, discussion groups, workshops, tutorials .


Content of the Course


1. Landscape ecology: an introduction (Bunce, Jongman 1993)

1.1. Definition, history, concepts.

1.2. Sustainability: capacity of the earth to maintain and support life and to persist as a system.

1.3. Hierarchy: different levels involving complexes of different elements.

1.4. Gradients: gradual changes (in time) and ecotones (in space).

1.5.Diversity (Mansvelt 1997) - the basic concept in the management of landscapes. Habitat diversity as a criterion for landscape value.

2. Landscape as an ecosystem (Doing 1997). Landscape as a complex of geographically, functionally and historically interrelated ecosystems.

2.1. Mapping - geomorphology of the landscapes, vegetation patterns, soil diversity, hydrological conditions; patterns of soil , meso- and microclimate and animal communities as equally important landscape components.

2.2. Functional relationships - the basis of the ecosystem concept. Subsystems - biomass, nutrient cycles, energy levels and pathways, trophic levels, relationships between diversity and stability. Homogeneous and heterogeneous systems.

2.3. Man as a factor in the functioning of landscapes. Succession of ecosystems, human influence - more "openness" of landscapes, relatively greater dependence on abiotic conditions; human impact as increasing in- and outputs.

2.4. Ecological dynamics of landscapes (Gilpin et al 1992)

2.4.1. Global climate changes (Gall, Staton 1992)

2.4.2. Agriculture – the dominant interface between human beings and nature;

2.4.3. Biological diversity – the goal of conservation.

2.5. BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY:definition (Biotic diversity in..., 1992; Biodiversity and ..., 1993; Biodiversity and Ecosystem..., 1993);

dynamical character of living diversity; importance of biodiversity (Gilpin et al 1992).

2.5.1. Levels of biodiversity.

2.5.2. Genetic diversity - variation of genes within species. Genetic diversity and maintaining of the populations (Fischer, Schmid 1998). Genetic diversity in forest (Behm 1998; Konnert 1998). Genetic diversity and environmental protection (Bender 1998).

2.5.3. Species diversity - variety of species. Measurements of biodiversity: species richness, species abundance, taxonomic or phylogenetic diversity.

2.5.4. Ecosystem diversity - the differences between ecosystem types; the diversity of habitats and ecological processes occurring within each ecosystem type. Relationships between the diversities of different components of ecosystem (above-ground/below-ground, plants/soil biota, etc) (Vandermeer et al 1998).

2.5.5. Alpha-, beta-, gamma- level of biodiversity (Gilpin et al 1992)

2.5.6. The biosphere – the environment for life on earth (Gilpin et al 1992).

2.6. Management problems at different levels:

- migration and dispersal, small populations, exploitation stress, dependency, human scales and human responses.

2.7. The factors having the influence on biodiversity: resources, geochemistry, geographical aspect, changes in time and space. (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function, 1993).

2.8. The value of biodiversity.

2.8.1. The value of biodiversities´ components: ecosystem services (water, soil, nutrients, pollution breakdown, climate stability, maintenance of ecosystems); biological resources (food, medicinal resources, wood products, breeding stocks, population reservoirs, future resources), social benefits (recreation, cultural values, benefits of timely actions).

2.8.2. The value of diversity for ecosystems and organisms, social and cultural value

2.9.  The conservation of biodiversity (Biotic diversity in... , 1992)

2.9.1 Concepts

2.9.2 Conservation of genetic resources (Plucknett, Horne 1992; Woodruff, Gall 1992)

2.9.3. Management strategies (Orians, Millar 1992)

2.10. The monitoring of biodiversity (by Goldsmith, ed, 1993): why monitor, design of strategies, methods, selecting the criteria, timing, samples, integrated monitoring, indicators (Foissner 1997).



3.1. Relationships between biodiversity and agriculture.

3.1.1. Agroecosystem biodiversity (Paoletti et al 1992)

3.1.1 Biodiversity use in agriculture: facing the paradox (Giampietro 1997; Giampietro et al 1997).

3.1.2 Genetic diversity in field crop husbandry and animal husbandry (FAO Report, 1997)

3.2. Agro-landscape and its values (Mansvelt 1997)

3.2.1 The landscape as a product of culture. Requirements for a sustainable landscape. Cultural landscape as an ecosystem (Tischler 1980). Development of agro-landscapes.

3.2.2. Criteria for landscape management - supporting of trends to regional developing, adapting locally, site-specific production system, limiting bulk transports and facilitating viability of the rural areas.

3.2.3 Environment (soil, water, air); ecology (species, biotopes, ecosystems); survival of the biosphere and food sufficiency. Indicative norm for soil, water, air. Conservation of the biodiversity. Eco-coherence in space and time, between biodiversity and the abiotic, environmental conditions.

3.2.4 Economy (finances, services, commodities), economic viability of the agro-landscape. Sociology; sharing and participation;

3.2.5 Aspects of human attitudes: psychology, human development, ethical survival. Preservation, restoring and development of landscape diversity.

3.3.The impact of agricultural practices on biodiversity (+McLaughlin, Mineau 1995; Orians, Lack 1992))

3.3.1 The impact of tillage

3.3.2 The impact of drainage

3.3.3 The impact of inter-cropping

3.3.4 The impact of rotation on biodiversity in arable land

3.3.5 The impact of grazing on biodiversity in pastures

3.3.6 The impact of pesticides and their application on biodiversity (+ Foissner 1997)

3.3.7 The impact of fertilisers

3.4.Defining agricultural sustainability - multiple perspectives.

3.4.1 Sustainability in agriculture: ecological, social, economic aspects (Cai Yunlong, Smit 1994)

3.4.2 The farming system as a sub-system of society: constraints imposed by population density, income level and labour time allocation in society.


3.4.3 The role of agroecology and integrated farming systems in agricultural sustainability (Edwards 1993). Influence of ecological agriculture - low input of fertilisers and herbicides, lesser pressure on the environment (Doing 1997).

3.5.Biodiversity in agricultural landscapes (Duelli 1997). Evaluating biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Species diversity in changing agricultural landscapes (Burel, Baudry 1995).

3.5.1 The conservation aspect: species, habitat and landscape protection (+Kiss et al 1997).

3.5.2 The biological control aspect: genetic diversity to enhance the ecological resilience of agricultural habitats; species diversity as a tool in pest control (Marc, Canard 1997)

3.5.3 Approach at two different scales: evaluating the mosaic pattern of an agricultural landscape and the sites specific biodiversities of its mosaic patches.

3.5.4 Global changes and biodiversity of agro-ecosystems (Vandermee et al 1998).

3.5.5 Biodiversity and agro-ecosystem function: three hypotheses (Vandermeer et al 1998).

3.5.6 Agenda 21 for Baltic Sea Region: about biodiversity and sustainability in agriculture (HELKOM, 1998)


4.1. Theory and conceptual issues (Rice 1992).

4.2. Agriculture and Biological conservation (Gall, Orians 1992)

4.3. Conservation of genetic diversity (Plucknett, Horne 1992

4.4. Biological Diversity in Developing Countries – conservation Policy (McNeely, Norgaard 1992)

4.5. International agreements related to biological diversity (Bern, Ramsar, Washington, Helsinki and Biodiversity Convention)


5.1. The economical aspect of the agro-ecosystems (Cansier 1998)

5.2. Economical value of biodiversity (Geisendorf 1998)

5.3. Socio-economical aspect of farming with biodiversity (Giampietro 1997)

5.4. Conservation farming: The economics and the sustainability (Tisdell 1996)



Agriculture and Environment. 1997. FAO Report, part 7, Tallinn.

Behm A. 1998. Generhaltungsmassnahmen im Bayerischen Forst. Laufener Seminarbeiträgen 2/98: 61-67

Bender C: 1998. Genetische Vielfalt und Naturschutz. Laufener Seminarbeiträge 2/98: 17-22

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function. 1993. Schulze ED and Mooney HA, eds, Ecological Studies 99, Springer, Berlin, 525 pp.

Biodiversity and its value. 1993. Biodiversity Series, ,paper N1. Biodiversity Unit, Australia.

Biotic diversity in agroecosystems. 1992. Paoletti MG and Pimentel D, eds. Proceedings of a Symposium on Agroecology and Conservation Issues, 26-29 September 1990, Padua, Italy, 356 pp.

Bunce R.G.H., Jongman R.H.G. 1993. An introduction to landscape ecology. In: Landscape ecology and agroecosystems, Bunce RGH, Ryczkowski L., Paoletti MG, eds., Lewis Publ., pp.3-10

Burel F., Baudry J. 1995. Species biodiversity in changing agricultural landscapes: A case study in the Pays d’Áuge, France. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 55: 193-200.

Cai Yunlong, B. Smit. 1994. Sustainability in agriculture: a general review. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 49: 299-307

Cansier D. 1998. Konzepte der Berücksichtigung der Umwelt in der Volkwirtschaftlichen Gesamtrechnung. Laufener Seminarbeiträge 1/98: 7-14

Doing H. 1997. The landscape as an ecosystem. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 63: 221-225

Duelli P. 1997. Biodiversity evaluation in agricultural landscapes: An approach at two different scales. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 62: 81-91

Edwards CA, Grove TL, Harwood RR, Pierce Colfer CJ. The role of agroecology and integrated farming systems in agricultural sustainabitlity. Agiculture, Ecosystems and Environment 46: 99-121

Fischer M., Schmid B. 1998. Die Bedeutung der genetischen Vielfalt für das Uberleben von Populationen. Laufener Seminarbeiträge 2/98: 23-30.

Foissner W. 1997. Protozoa as bioindicators in agroecosystems, with emphasis on farming practices, biocides, and biodiversity. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 62: 93-103

Gall GAE, Orians GH. 1992. Agriculture and Biological Conservation. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 42: 1-8

Gall GAE, Kreith M, Staton M. 1992. Global climate Change. Agriculture, Ecosystem, Environment 42: 93-100

Geisendorf S. 1998. Biodiversität in der Umweltökonomischen Gesamtrechnung: was kostet Artenvielfalt? Laufener Seminarbeiträge 1/98: 15-25

Giampietro M. 1997. Socioeconomic constraints to farming with biodiversity. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 62: 145-167

Giampietro M., Paoletti M.G., Bukkens S.G.F., Han Chunru. 1997. Preface. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 62: 77-79

Gilpin M., Gall GAE, Woodruff DS. 1992. Ecological dynamics and Agricultural Landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 42: 27-52

HELCOM, 1998. Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region, Sustainable Development of the Agricultural Sector in the Baltic Sea Region. Baltic Sea Environ. Proc. No 74

Kiss J., Penksza K., Toth F., Kadar F. 1997. Evaluation of fields and field margins in nature production capacity with special regards to plant protection. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 63: 227-232

Konnert M. 1998. Genetische Vielfalt im Wald - wie erkennen? Wie erhalten? Laufener Seminarbeiträge 2/98: 53-60

Mansvelt J.D. 1997. An interdisciplinary approach to integrate a range of agro-landscape values as proposed by representatives of various disciplines. Agriculture, ecosystems and environment, 63: 233-250

Marc P., Canard A. 1997. Maintaining spider biodiversity in agroecosystems as a tool in pest control. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 62: 229-235

McNeely JA, Norgaard RB. Developed Country Policies and Biological Diversity in developing Countries. Agriculture, Ecosysten and Environment 42: 194-204

McLaughlin A., Mineau P. 1995. The impact of agricultural practices on biodiversity. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 55: 201-213

Monitoring for Conservation and Ecology. 1993. Ed. By F.B.Goldsmith. Chapman&Hall.

Orians GH, Lack P. 1992. Arable Lands. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 42: 101-124

Orians GH, Millar CI. 1992. Forest Lands. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Management 42: 125-140

Paoletti MG, Pimentel D, Stinner BR, Stinner D. 1992. Agroecosystem biodiversity: matching production and conservation biology. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 40: 3-23

Plucknett DL, Horne ME. 1992. Conservation of genetic resources. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 42: 75-92

Rice K. 1992. Theory and conceptional issues. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 42:9-26

Tischler W. 1980. Biologie der Kulturlandschaft. Eine Einführung. Gustav Fischer Verlag. Stuttgart.

Tisdell C. 1996. Economic indicators to access the sustainability of conservation farming projects: An evaluation. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 57: 117-131

Vandermeer J., Noordwijk M.van, Anderson J., Chin Ong, Perfecto I. 1998. Global change and multi-species agroecosystems. Concepts and issues. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 67: 1-22

Woodruff DS, Gall GAE. 1992. Genetics and conservation. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 42: 75-92

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