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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

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Landscape development - a task for organic agriculture in the future? S15

Elsen, Thomas van

Universität Gh Kassel, Fachgebiet Landschaftsökologie und Naturschutz, Nordbahnhofstr. 1a, D-37213 Witzenhausen.

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The question of landscape development plays a minor role in todays organic agriculture because of economic pressure that leads to improvement of production technology even at the expense of ecology. The nature conservation movement often aspires to create a kind of pre-industrial landscape as an basic aim. In the organic agriculture movement a real concept how to deal with questions of »species diversity« and »landscape development« does not exist up till now.

In older agricultural books it was quite normal to look at a farm as an organism. This point of view is also the basis of modern organic agriculture. For example, in biodynamic agriculture the »agricultural organism« is seen as a developing »individuality«.

In a 7-day-course on landscape ecology for agriculture students at the University of Kassel (Witzenhausen) we tried to deal with the following questions, using a small organic farm as a concrete example. Is it possible to widen the »organism-approach« to the whole landscape? Could this lead toa more conscious treatment of questions like »species diversity« and »landscape development«? What are the consequences, if one looks at a farm and the surrounding landscape as an organism that is going to develop? What are the components of a »landscape organism«, and how can the differentqualities of the components be conceived?

The natural development of the landscape of middle Europe tends towards there- establishment of woodland. Through pre-industrial land-use the species - and landscape - diversity increased in comparison to the wooded starting-point; whereas post-industrial agriculture became one of the most destructive factors with respect to diversity. Through the endeavour to recognize the natural components of a farm as parts of an organism, a change of the farmer's consciousness can happen and might lead towards the will to integrate the aim of further landscape development into his management. The development and realization of such individualized aims have to be seen as a continuing process, in which people with different professions work together.

van Elsen, T. (1995): Zur Integration landschaftsökologischer Aspekte inden »Studienschwerpunkt Ökologischer Landbau« der Universität Gh Kassel (Witzenhausen). Beitr. 3. Wiss.-Tagung Ökol. Landbau, Kiel, p. 25-28