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Land Use and Biodiversity

People have strong ties to landscapes and use them in various ways. From a human perspective, many landscapes are being used more intensively than ever before in the history of earth, and more and more, landscapes are being used for more than one purpose. Any form of land use is coupled with specific benefits. The many facets of this insight are reflected in the term “multi-functionality”. When it comes to organizing land use systems and establishing sustainable agrarian production in particular, it is essential to understand the facts about the great variety of landscape functions and how they influence each other.

There is an urgent need for integrated methods for the development of economically and ecologically reasonable, regionally adapted, sustainable land use concepts, particularly in the context the cross compliance programs of the European Union. Decision supporting methods to estimate the effects of land use change are urgently needed, just like forecasting the effects of technical progress or of agrarian and environmental political measures on land use and the landscape functions coupled with it.

Another major challenge in the near future is the change in the composition of the earth’s atmosphere, probably coupled with dramatic changes in ecological system functions and biodiversity. Essential "ecosystem services" might be impaired, putting at risk vital functions of man’s natural life support system. Knowledge derived from climate change research must be put into a practical context, on appropriate space and time scales, to create realistic scenarios for decision makers.