Identifying win–win situations in agricultural landscapes: an integrated ecosystem services assessment for Spain

Año Publicación:  2019
Responsable: F. Santos-Martín et al.
Journal, Volumen y páginas:
Landscape Ecology, 34(7), 1789–1805


F. Santos-Martín, P. Zorrilla-Miras, M. García-Llorente, C. Quintas-Soriano, C. Montes, J. Benayas, A. Gómez Sal & M. L. Paracchini



European agricultural landscapes are facing contradictory phenomena in that some areas are experiencing unsustainable land-use intensification while others are being abandoned. Specifically, agricultural intensification is increasing resulting in numerous negative environmental impacts on European soils, water and biodiversity; increased crop ecological footprints; and creation of social conflicts and inequalities. Within this context, we mapped and assessed ecosystem services from Spanish agricultural landscapes to identify ecological and economical win–win situations that could provide good examples of sustainable landscape management.


We aim to spatially identify gaps and areas of overlap of ecological and economic values of ecosystem services at the national scale for Spanish agricultural landscapes. Additionally, we analyse possible connections among social concerns and preferences related to environmental issues and ecosystem services with economic and ecological values of local agricultural landscapes.


First, we quantified and mapped the economic value of crop production at the national level. Second, we mapped the ecological value of agricultural landscapes based on the “high nature value farming” index. Third, we explored the spatial correlations between economic and ecological values to identify major agricultural landscape patterns at the national level and specific win–win situations at the local level. Fourth, we conducted a public survey of the Spanish population about environmental concerns and their preferences towards ecosystem services. Fifth, we analysed the links among the social concerns and preferences with the ecological and economic values of agricultural landscapes at the national level.


Our results allow us to better understand the main landscape patterns and help develop more balanced management strategies. For instance, the results show how current landscape management in Spain is polarized between areas with high economic values and areas with high ecological performance. The maps produced also allow the identification of agricultural landscapes with high economic and ecological values that can be used as good examples for sustainable landscape management. Additionally, the public survey revealed that environmental concerns of the Spanish population and the importance the population places on agricultural ecosystem services received very low scores.


The results from this study show that the possibility of balancing and reconciling the supply of ecological and economic values from agricultural landscapes exists in practice. The results help identify areas in Spain where actions should be taken to enhance sustainable landscape planning at the national level. Among the analysed environmental concerns of the Spanish population, the three environmental concerns that had the lowest scores are those that are tightly linked to the type of action needed to shift towards more sustainable agroecological systems. Finally, we discuss how complex interactions among ecosystem services should become part of the planning strategies for new sustainable landscape management at the national level.

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