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A novel agroecosystem: Beef production in abandoned farmland as a multifunctional alternative to rewilding

Stephen J.G. Hall

Agricultural Systems, 2018, vol. 167, issue C, 10-16

Abstract: In much of Europe policy is challenged by the abandonment of crop and pasture land and its replacement by natural forest regrowth. Rewilding is one option. An alternative, multifunctional, strategy is extensive beef farming coupled with carbon storage in herbage and naturally regenerating trees. An economic model is developed in the context of Estonia, where many of the constraints and opportunities relating to natural forest regrowth are in particularly sharp focus, but the approach will be widely applicable. Production of niche market beef, carbon sequestration, and other ecosystem services can proceed in parallel. A novel concept of support payments is proposed. Net present value assessment, with cash credits for carbon storage, demonstrates that the model is viable. A 100 ha tract of abandoned land, stocked with 35 beef cows, would produce beef profitably. Provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services would be delivered, including a net storage of carbon, and rural regeneration would be promoted. The study provides further scientific underpinning for a policy discussion on abandoned land, which represents a growing proportion of Europe's land area. Extensive beef production is compatible with net carbon storage and can provide sustainable ecosystem services together with rural regeneration.

Keywords: Carbon storage; Ecosystem services; Estonia; Forest regrowth; Net present value; Silvopastoralism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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