Understanding the Loss of Traditional Agricultural Systems: A Case Study of Orchard Meadows in Germany
AbstractTraditional agricultural systems are being lost, along with their associated biodiversity and knowledge. These systems, however, could provide lessons for the development of more sustainable agricultural systems. Orchard meadows are a traditional agricultural system in central Europe that are currently undergoing precipitous decline. They are islands of biodiversity within a densely urbanized landscape and supported the food security of communities for hundreds of years. This study combines the problem-solving–oriented Root Causes Framework with the perspective of agroecology in order to examine the drivers of orchard meadow loss in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. As we found, the loss of orchard meadows and their associated biodiversity is the consequence of a variety of drivers, including government policies and cultural attitudes. Furthermore, the erosion of knowledge about managing orchard meadows has itself become a driver of decline. However, the study also identified several novel market and nonmarket approaches to reversing the decline that actively engage citizens through education and training or offer real economic incentive to growers to cultivate orchard meadows.
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