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Farmers show complex and contrasting perceptions on ecosystem services and their management


  • Teixeira, Heitor Mancini
  • Vermue, Ardjan J.
  • Cardoso, Irene Maria
  • Peña Claros, Marielos
  • Bianchi, Felix J.J.A.


Agricultural systems are complex socio-ecological systems that are managed by farmers to achieve desired outcomes, including food production and other ecosystem services (ES). While farm management is a key factor for ES provision, farmers may widely differ in their awareness, ambition and skills to manage their systems. Currently there is a lack of understanding of farmers’ perception on ES, and how this is related to their management. We studied the management and perception of large scale farmers, conventional family farmers and agroecological family farmers in the Zona de Mata region in Brazil. Farmers were interviewed and constructed fuzzy cognitive maps (FCM) of their perception on ES. The FCM analysis revealed that in general, the perception of farmers on ES is highly complex and interconnected. Yet, agroecological family farmers showed a more complex perception on ES, which is associated with more diversified and autonomous agroecosystems. Both agroecological and conventional family farmers had a strong peasant identity, recognising more cultural ecosystem services than large scale farmers and relied more on production for consumption. Initiatives that aim to strengthen on-farm ecosystem services provision should be sensitive to farmer’s perceptions and may need to consider using specific strategies for different farmer types.

Suggested Citation

  • Teixeira, Heitor Mancini & Vermue, Ardjan J. & Cardoso, Irene Maria & Peña Claros, Marielos & Bianchi, Felix J.J.A., 2018. "Farmers show complex and contrasting perceptions on ecosystem services and their management," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 33(PA), pages 44-58.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoser:v:33:y:2018:i:pa:p:44-58
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2018.08.006

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Heitor Mancini Teixeira & Leonardo Van den Berg & Irene Maria Cardoso & Ardjan J. Vermue & Felix J. J. A. Bianchi & Marielos Peña-Claros & Pablo Tittonell, 2018. "Understanding Farm Diversity to Promote Agroecological Transitions," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(12), pages 1-20, November.
    3. Ibán Vázquez-González & María do Mar Pérez-Fra & Ana Isabel García-Arias & Bernardo Valdês-Paços & Edelmiro López-Iglesias, 2021. "Rendered Agroecosystem Services and Dysservices of Dairy Farming: A Bottom-Up Approach in Galicia (Spain)," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(15), pages 1-20, July.
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    5. Montoya, Daniel & Gaba, Sabrina & de Mazancourt, Claire & Bretagnolle, Vincent & Loreau, Michel, 2020. "Reconciling biodiversity conservation, food production and farmers’ demand in agricultural landscapes," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 416(C).
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    7. Pereira Lima, Flávia & Pereira Bastos, Rogério, 2020. "Understanding landowners’ intention to restore native areas: The role of ecosystem services," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 44(C).
    8. Shi, Qinqin & Chen, Hai & Liang, Xiaoying & Zhang, Hang & Liu, Di, 2020. "Cultural ecosystem services valuation and its multilevel drivers: A case study of Gaoqu Township in Shaanxi Province, China," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 41(C).
    9. Yaofeng Yang & Yajuan Chen & Zhenrong Yu & Pengyao Li & Xuedong Li, 2020. "How Does Improve Farmers’ Attitudes toward Ecosystem Services to Support Sustainable Development of Agriculture? Based on Environmental Kuznets Curve Theory," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(20), pages 1-16, October.
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