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Landscape and biodiversity as new resources for agro-ecology? Insights from farmers’ perspectives

Nicolas Salliou, DYNAFOR, Université de Toulouse, INPT, INRA, Toulouse, France
Cecile Barnaud, DYNAFOR, Université de Toulouse, INPT, INRA, Toulouse, France


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Pesticide reduction is a key current challenge. Scientific findings in landscape ecology suggest that complex landscapes favor insect pest biological control by conservation of natural enemy habitats. A potential agro-ecological innovation is to conserve or engineer such complex landscapes to reduce pesticide use. However, whereas the relevant resources are often well known in most natural resource management situations, potential resources involved in this innovation (natural enemies and the landscape) are not necessarily considered as resources in the eyes of their potential users. From the perspective that resources are socially constructed, our objective was to investigate whether and how these resources are considered by their potential users. To do so, we conducted research in an area specializing in tree-fruit (apple) production in southwestern France. This site was selected for its high pest incidence and high use of insecticides on orchards and, consequently, high stakes involved for any alternative. We conducted 30 comprehensive interviews with stakeholders (farmers and crop advisors) about their pest control strategies to explore their representation of their landscape and natural enemies. Our results show that natural enemies are considered by local stakeholders as public good resources, especially in the context of interventions by public institutions for their conservation, acclimation, and management. Farmers sometimes consider natural enemies as private goods when they can isolate the crop, enclosing it with nets or some other type of boundary. We also show that the landscape was not considered as a resource for biological pest control by conservation, but rather as a source of pests. We advocate for more research on the effects of landscapes on natural enemies, including participatory research based on dialogue among farmers, crop advisors, and scientists.

Key words

biological control by conservation; collective action; landscape; mental model; uncertainty

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087