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Biodiversity conservation through farming : A landscape assessment in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Torquebiau E., Dosso M., Nakaggwa F., Philippon O.. 2012. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 36 (3) : p. 296-318.

The integration of agriculture and biodiversity has become an acknowledged solution to concurrently address the development of sustainable food production systems and the preservation of natural resources. However, there are few alternative farming systems combining agricultural commodities with ecosystem services. We examined the farm and landscape dynamics of an area in South Africa which has been isolated from mainstream agriculture for several decades. We used a time series of aerial photographs as well as farm surveys and interviews to analyze how historical and present trends can explain land use features. Results show that today's landscape is the consequence of dramatic socioeconomic transformations that have turned original transhumant livestock keepers into sedentary farmers. Although poverty is widespread, we found a well-balanced landscape with a regularly increasing tree cover and a high biodiversity potential. Beyond farm and household size, the main landscape impact factors are herd size and management as well as soil fertility management practices, including fallowing. We show that these conditions represent a good potential toward a multifunctional landscape, provided the relationships between farmers' practices and biodiversity are better formalized and there are tangible benefits for farmers to opt for this approach. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : transhumance; agroécologie; agriculture alternative; utilisation des terres; colonisation rurale; structure agricole; intensification; système de culture; méthode d'élevage; conservation des ressources; gestion des ressources; agroécosystème; paysage; agriculture; biodiversité; afrique du sud; sédentarisation; multifonctionnalité; système agraire

Thématique : Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières; Systèmes et modes de culture; Elevage - Considérations générales; Structure agraire

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