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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Integrating ecosystem services and biodiversity in landscape management for multifunctional agroecosystems: A case study in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia Loewen, Theresa M.

Abstract

Agricultural land represents a significant proportion of global land use; consequently, agricultural activities can have a profound effect on the surrounding landscape, including the ecosystems and habitat relied upon by species within. Managing for ecosystem services (ES) and biodiversity in agroecosystems can provide benefits that offset the environmental impacts of agriculture, including improved soil health and water quality, natural pest control, and climate change mitigation. The goal of this research project is to investigate how integrating ES and biodiversity in agroecosystems can serve to support sustainable multifunctional landscapes, focusing on the Okanagan Valley, Canada, a multifunctional landscape facing challenges of population growth, land use/land cover change, and climate change. Research questions were informed by the principles of agroecology, and designed to explore how integrating ES and biodiversity into agricultural practices and policies might serve to address regional challenges. To investigate the contribution of agricultural land to ES provisioning, a methodology was developed for mapping ES on agricultural parcels in the study area. The parcels were ranked from high to low ES provisioning to show the relative contribution of agricultural parcels to the greater landscape. The results show that parcels in the study area generally provide a moderate level of ES, and including maps of this nature in community plans and stewardship programs can serve to inform land use planning and policies for agricultural land in the Okanagan. The second research question investigates the mechanisms that could be used to assist agricultural producers in maintaining ES provisioning and biodiversity on their properties by conducting interviews of agricultural landowners in the study area. The interview results produced themes that highlight the need for more education, outreach, and assistance for farmers, showing that there is opportunity to enhance programs and services to support farmers in implementing practices that support biodiversity and ES provisioning. Ultimately, the results of this research are meant to provide some methods and validation for supporting and adopting agricultural land management strategies that consider the ecological value of the land by integrating ES, biodiversity, and agroecological practices into land use planning and policy designed to support multifunctional land use.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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