Ecosystem Services in Productive Landscapes: New Zealand’s emerging agricultural pattern and land-use change
It is considered that New Zealand has the greatest rate of land-use change in the Western world (Penman 2008 pers. comm.). Although New Zealand’s land-use changes may be dynamic, reflecting overseas market needs in a business-agile way, the increase in agricultural intensification and in the diversity of crops grown over the last four decades is compounding the strain on the provision of ecosystem (nature’s) services (Costanza 1997, Daily et al 1997) that are necessary for long-term sustainable and profitable production. Higher animal stocking rates and yields, conversion to more intensive forms of agriculture, conversion to forestry and deer farming, increased mechanisation and increased use of fertilizers, pesticides and feedstock inputs are all indications of this steady trend (MacLeod et al 2006). In particular, the last decade has seen a rise in conversion from sheep and beef to dairy farming, a much more intensive activity. The dairy industry is currently striving to increase productivity by 4% per annum, to achieve a 50% increase in production by 2015 (MacLeod et al 2006). This policy depends increasingly on subsidies; more fertilizer, water, supplemental feeding – which may not be sourced from within the farm, or even from within New Zealand. This current trend for intensification may not be ecologically viable for the long term. Increased carbon dioxide emissions from higher fossil fuel use in mechanised intensive farming practices cannot be easily offset (Rhodes et al 2007). Conversion of rough grassland to ‘improved pasture’ has seen losses in biodiversity. Biodiversity is very valuable to agriculture, although the exact figure is difficult to ascertain (Costanza et al 1997, Sandhu et al 2007, Tilman et al 1996). New Zealand agriculture is diversifying as well as changing, examples being an increase in land use for vines and other specialty crops. Seed crops such as radish, have seen areas such as the Canterbury plains change markedly (MacLeod et al 2006). Forest plantations have seen a 110% increase in land area since 1980 (Brockerhoff et al 2008). This increase in forestry (mainly Pinus radiata) may have some biodiversity benefits.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsland use change; ecosystem; agricultural intensification; biodiversity; agricultural diversification; forestry; Waipara
TypeConference Contribution - Published (Conference Paper)
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