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Nature quality in organic farming: a conceptual analysis of considerations and criteria in a European context

By K. Tybirk, H. F. Alroe, P. Frederiksen

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Nature quality in relation to farming is a complex field. It involves different traditions and interests, different views of what nature is, and different ways of valuing nature. Furthermore there is a general lack of empirical data on many aspects of nature quality in the farmed landscape. In this paper we discuss nature quality from the perspective of organic farming, which has its own values and goals in relation to nature - the "Ecologist View of Nature." This is in contrast to the "Culturist View" characteristic of much conventional agriculture and the "Naturalist View" characteristic of the traditional biological approach to nature quality. This threefold distinction forms a framework for exploration of nature quality criteria in the farmed landscape. The traditional work on nature quality has mainly focused on biological interests based on a Naturalist View of Nature. In this paper we will explore how criteria for nature quality based on the Ecologist View can be developed and thereby feed into the ongoing discussion of the development of the organic farming practices. We suggest additional criteria for nature quality based on an Ecologist View of Nature: biodiversity, habitat diversity, extent and structure, functional integrity of habitats and agro-ecosystems, landscape integrity, accessibility, and experientiality. The larger set of Naturalist and Ecologist criteria can provide a wider and more balanced basis for developing nature quality indicators that are relevant in the farmed landscapes. This broader approach to nature quality is also expected to benefit the general societal discussions and decisions on farming and nature.

Date 2004
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 17
Issue 3
Pages 249-274
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1023/B:JAGE.0000033081.92534.d4
Language English
Author Address Department of Wildlife Ecology and Biodiversity, National Environmental Research Institute (NERI), Grenavej 14, DK-8410 Ronde, Denmark.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Biodiversity
  2. Conservation
  3. Ecological agriculture
  4. Ecology
  5. Europe
  6. Habitats
  7. organic culture
  8. organic farming
  9. peer-reviewed
  10. Plants
  1. peer-reviewed