Development of an integrated framework of MFA and ES for peri-urban agriculture

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Ecosystem Services and agriculture

Definition of Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services (ES) are benefits that human populations derive directly or indirectly from ecosystem functions, as defined by Costanza et al. (1997). ES research claims that human-caused environmental degradation largely results from ignorance of ES value or lacking of instruments to consider that value in the decision-making systems. The United Nation’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment program (MEA, 2003, 2005) distinguished four categories of ES: provisioning services, regulating services, cultural services, and supporting services.
Ecosystem-service cascades explains the “production chain” of ES, which include the following stages: ecosystem structure and process, function (ecosystem capability to provide services), service, benefit, and value (Haines-Young and Potschin, 2010, de Groot et al., 2010). The mechanism of Payments for Ecosystem Services/Environmental Services (PES) has been designed to solve public goods problem, based upon identification of the providers and beneficiaries of ES (Pagiola et al., 2005; Wunder et al., 2008). The strategy of ES has gained a big success in improving natural ecosystems management during the past twenty years. It becomes also interesting for agricultural research because agricultural activities basically rely on the functioning of agro-ecosystems.


The concept of agro-ecosystem appeared as an adaptation of “ecosystem” thinking in agricultural research. It promoted consideration of the ecological context beyond the narrow view that considered agriculture merely as a linear, controllable, economic activity (Loucks, 1977; Conway, 1985; Altieri, 1999; Gliessman, 2004; Cabell and Oelofse, 2012). Comparing to natural ecosystem, the primary particularity of agro-ecosystem is its highly simplified structure and the non-self-sustaining energy flow and matter cycling. Constant human interventions are required to kill the pest, guarantee water supplying, and maintain nutrient and carbon level in the soil.
Agro-ecosystem is a social-ecological system, including necessary human inputs such as pesticides, irrigation water, fertilizers and labors, and also related social, economic, and market elements. The objective of the early work on agro-ecosystem was to ameliorate the ecological processes linked to food production, regarding four system properties: productivity, stability, sustainability and equitability (Conway, 1985). With the rise of ES concept, research on agro-ecosystem gradually recognized multiple ES and impacts beyond the production of food and materials (e.g. regulation of climate and water, detoxification) from agriculture, as well as intermediate ES that are necessary for the functioning of agro-ecosystem itself, such as the biodiversity, fertility of sol and recycling of nutrient (Altieri, 1999; Gliessman, 2004; McKey et al., 2010; Cabell and Oelofse, 2012). These studies found that traditional agro-ecosystems such as polycultures and agroforestry systems and alternative ones like organic farming could be capable of self-regulation.

Ecosystem Services and agriculture

The estimation of Costanza et al., (1997) on the global value of ES from cropland included only pollination, biological control and production service, and considered that the value of cropland was negligible in providing recreational service or habitat/refugia. Agricultural expansion was principally blamed for global ecosystem services damage (MEA, 2005). Subsequently, growing research largely enriched the framework of ES from and to agricultural ecosystems (Swinton et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2007; Power, 2010; Ma and Swinton, 2011).
A range of regulating and supporting ES were considered as necessary inputs to agro-ecosystem, including soil structure and fertility, nutrient cycling, water provision, biodiversity, pollination, biological control of pests, water regulation, atmospheric regulation, and others. Besides production of food and materials, agriculture was also considered supplier of wildlife habitat, climate change mitigation, recreation, esthetic service and other ES. Furthermore, the framework also revealed “ecosystem disservices” to agriculture (e.g. pest damage, competition for water and pollination) and from agriculture (e.g. habitat loss, nutrient runoff, pesticide drift).
The aim of ES research on agriculture is to promote the change of agricultural practices for alleviation of the agricultural image as polluter and consideration of public goods and services. Effective instruments can be hopefully created for preservation of agricultural lands. For example, the mechanism of PES is interesting for ameliorating the performances of Agri-Environment Measures (AEM), major policy tools in Europe to improve environmental performance of agriculture (Rega and Spaziante, 2013, Wynne-Jones, 2013). AEM were designed in the 1980s to compensate farmers for their loss of income associated with environmental protection measures (European Commission, 2005). There are increasing doubts on the efficiency in monitoring and evaluation of AEM policies (Kleijn and Sutherland, 2003; Schroeder et al., 2013). Peri-urban agriculture has close contacts with the urban population who is highly demanding of these services. PES mechanism also offers marketable incentives that integrate multiple alternative benefits with the production of food and materials from peri-urban agriculture.

Challenges of Ecosystem Services in agricultural research

Agro-ecosystems are more complicated than natural systems for being highly modified, socio-ecological systems. It is difficult to distinguish the contributions of ecosystems from the contributions of farmers. It is also confusing to define the human-caused pesticide drift and nitrogen leaching as embedded “disservices” of agro-ecosystem (e.g. Swinton et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2007; Power, 2010). An ecosystem can include humans and their artifacts (Pickett, 2002), but if human effects are always confused with natural effects, it is difficult to halter the growing dependence of modern farming on human inputs. For this reason, Lugo (2008) and Aznar et al. (2009) proposed to distinguish the contributions of farmers (environmental service) from contributions of ecosystem (ecosystem service). Their focus then turned from ecosystem services to environmental services.
Meanwhile, environmental concerns are hard to be integrated to farming systems for being considered as constraints by the farmers, such as reduction of pesticides and mineral fertilizer use. Policies targeting the protection of a certain ES may harm the livelihood of farmers and other actors (Bonnal et al., 2012; Maris, 2014). The concept of ES which till now is nature-driven needs to be mediated into the social and economic dimensions. Scientific attempts are emerging to conciliate ecology with action (Gunnell, 2009) or to improve the combination of ecological, social, economic and political dimensions in ES research (Arnauld de Sartre et al., 2014).
Attention should also be paid to avoid the abuse of the concept. The equation of ES with influence, land function or consequence, weakens the effectiveness of the concept. For example, an “ES” of peri-urban agriculture to limit urban expansion is hard to understand. It is rather a human choice than a benefit from the functioning of agro-ecosystem. Abuse leads to abandonment of a concept, as shown by the example of Multifunctional Agriculture (MFA), a similar concept on multiple benefits from agriculture and being criticized as lacking precision (Garzon, 2005). Thus, in order to compensate the limitations of ES as noted above, it’s better to integrate ES with other concepts than to unreasonably enlarge the scope of ES.

Multifunctional Agriculture

Definition of Multifunctional Agriculture

Multifunctional Agriculture (MFA) analyzes the jointly produced economic, social and environmental functions from agricultural activities beyond the production of food and fiber. It was highly promoted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union in 1990s in both research and policy making (European Community, 1998; OECD, 2001).
Existing MFA projects on peri-urban agriculture focused more on socio-economic dimension than environment protection (Vandermeulen and Van Huylenbroeck, 2008). Prioritized functions were food supply, landscape amenity and environmental role against flood risk (Zasada, 2011; Aubry et al., 2012).

Role of MFA in the policies of France and Europe

In France and Europe, research and policies of MFA gradually reached its height from early 1990s on the occasion of the reforms of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) (Pisani, 1994; Groupe de Bruges, 1996; Laurent and Mouriaux, 1999; Laurent, 2002; Hervieu, 2002; Aumand et al., 2006). The reform of CAP reduced direct price supports and shifted to area-based income supports to farmers with the aim to sustain necessary land occupancy pattern for joint production of environmental goods at a landscape scale (Potter and Burney, 2002; Bills and Gross, 2005; Gomez y Paloma et al., 2013). MFA research made very important contributions by revealing the mechanism of jointness in production processes (Wossink et al., 2001; Schmid and Sinabell, 2004). At the Berlin Summit on the Agenda 2000, the European Union created the second pillar of the CAP around rural development and MFA (Hervieu, 2002).
In France, the concept of MFA was officially confirmed by the Agricultural Orientation law (LOA) in 1999; the instrument of Farming Territorial Contract (CTE) was established, which was a contract between farmers and the state about the delegation and payments for public services destined to stakeholders at the territorial level (Bonnal et al., 2012). The concept of MFA then failed in the political world for being criticized as “agricultural protectionism” (Bonnal et al., 2012) or lacking of precision. The instrument of CTE was also replaced by the Contract of Sustainable Agriculture (CAD) in 2002 and later by instruments associated with Agri-Environmental Measures. PAC reform now is turning to market incentives (e.g. PES) for the post-2013 period (Gomez y Paloma et al., 2013).

Future of MFA

The failure in political world does not mean that the concept of MFA is valueless. Focusing on the performance of agriculture, MFA strategy can more directly guide the overall management of farmers’ activities. It is rather the improper design of policy instruments that have caused market distortion. MFA is not incompatible with more efficient commercial incentives (van Huylenbroeck et al., 2007) or a remuneration/penalization policy frame directly linked to public goods/negative impacts (Blandford and Boisvert, 2002).
The flexibility covering a wide range of contributions from agriculture is an advantage of the concept which stimulates linkages with the territory, among multiple scales and between different disciplines, and makes MFA a promising way towards sustainable development (Caron et al., 2008). Scholars complained that it was very difficult for MFA to completely decouple environmental objectives with agricultural production (Potter and Burney, 2002). Nevertheless, this is beneficial for the preservation of peri-urban agriculture, which avoids the conversion of agricultural lands to extensive use like hobby farm or natural lands.
Certainly, MFA needs to overcome the shortcomings. First, the concept needs a firm base to specify the definition of agricultural functions. Different countries have diverse perspectives on multifunctional agriculture (Moon, 2012). The definition should allow communication among different perspectives without becoming too vague. Second, MFA lacks consideration on the role of ecosystem services, i.e. benefits from the functioning of agro-ecosystem. It always takes agricultural system as a human-made production system that pursues additionally positive environmental effects and reduction of negative influences.

Integrated approaches of ES and MFA

ES and MFA have similar objectives to recognize multiple agricultural benefits and impacts beyond the production of food and fibre. Each has advantages and also shortcomings. According to the above discussions, the two concepts are highly complementary. It is a good strategy to integrate two complementary mature concepts when there is too much uncertainty to create a new one. The criticisms are useful in indicating the shortcomings of a concept, but it’s not reasonable to move towards a quick abandonment of the concept:
For example, Maris (2014) claimed that PES was problematic because it resulted in a utilitarian view of nature by “selling nature”. But in fact, PES is just an instrument to promote the maintenance of ES, and does not equal the true value of ecosystem services. In the logic of environmental regulation, costs are paid by farmers; while in the logic of PES, costs are paid by the society (Desjeux et al., 2011). It does not mean that nature is sold by one person to another. Another tendency is turning from ecosystem service to environmental service as discussed above. The concerns of environmental services focus on the contributions or sacrifices of farmers to the providing of environmental benefits. Studies on “environmental services” are useful for the creation of effective instruments to motivate the farmers (Wunder et al., 2008; Aznar et al., 2009). However, the contributions of the ecosystem should not be ignored, for example, the contributions of various regulating service and supporting service to the production of final services (e.g. food and materials, esthetic and cultural service).
An integrated approach of ES and MFA can promote integration of the alternative agricultural benefits with the production of food and materials, avoiding over emphasis on productivity or environmental concerns. Peri-urban agricultural lands can be really preserved in that case. ES can be a firm base for the definition of agricultural functions, thus to improve the precision of MFA. Based upon ES cascade, the integrated approach can properly consider the role of ES, and manage a self-regulating agricultural system. MFA combines economic, social and environmental dimensions so can be a perfect mediation to integrate the logic of ES with the logic of economic and social benefits. The integrated approach will also help to distinguish the contribution of ecosystem and human actions. Especially, it will provide overall strategies for farmers to manage their activities and a framework about the relationships among multiple stakeholders. Integrated approach of ES and MFA is innovative; research is very rare in this domain.

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Objectives of the dissertation

The objective of the dissertation is to explore an integrated approach of ES and MFA for the preservation of peri-urban agricultural lands. The first part is dedicated to the development of an integrated framework of ES and MFA for the research of peri-urban agricultural lands. The second and third parts are in-depth studies on management of abandoned farmlands and agricultural recycling of urban wastes in Ile-de-France Region, respectively. The aim of the in-depth studies is to demonstrate how the integrated approach of MFA and ES works on concrete problems linked to peri-urban agriculture. Multi-scale analyzes were carried out for the two in-depth studies.

Development of an integrated framework of ES and MFA for peri-urban agriculture

Comparative review of MFA and ES in agricultural research

Two scientific communities independently focus on MFA or ES. They have broad interest in sustainable agriculture but limited interaction and exchange. There are mainly two views in the literature about the relations between MFA and ES. The first perceives a trend of increasing use of ES and declining use of MFA (e.g. Bonnal et al., 2012). The other views the two concepts as the same things “under different headings” (e.g. Renting et al., 2009). So the primary work is dedicated to a comparative review on ES and MFA in published agricultural research.
The review addresses the following two specific objectives: first, it compares the publication trends, ideologies and research approaches of MFA and ES; second, it proposes dialogs and an integrated research framework that combine MFA and ES. The general framework mainly concludes a MFA strategy for farmer to consider multiple ecosystem services and disservices to and from agriculture as inputs and outputs of his farm.

Further development of the integrated framework for peri-urban agriculture

Application to a specific context as peri-urban agriculture requires further work to combine the demand side. The output ES from agro-ecosystem are consumed differently in different social economic structure, so the multifunctionality of a farm varies. For example, food supply varies with the commercial system. When products from peri-urban agriculture are largely destined to international markets, the increasing provisioning ES do not necessarily improve food function to the nearby urban dwellers.
Peri-urban farmers have direct contacts with a variety of stakeholders. Food security has critic meaning for the growing population in the city, especially when urban needs are rising for local food (Aubry and Kebir, 2013). Comparing to strong urban demands, peri-urban agriculture is underproducing environmental values and landscape elements (Zasada, 2011). Conventional farmers are marginally motivated to modify practices that maintain soil fertility, preserve biodiversity, or reduce pesticides use (Van Huylenbroeck et al., 2005; Torquati et al., 2008). Direct payments for these ES usually are far less attractive than the income from food production or the subsidies from land expropriation (Caro-Borrero et al., 2015).
Therefore, the integrated framework needs to combine ecological, social and economic dimensions to link ES with agricultural functions, in order to propose overall strategies for farmers’ activities. It also needs to understand the interactions among multiple ES/functions from peri-urban agriculture. This is the key for the permanent problem of coordinating urban needs for food, land and environmental services, to avoid the paradox that rise of urban-to-rural migration in search of rural open space and lifestyle drove rapid consumption of peri-urban agricultural lands. The integrated framework of ES and MFA is thus been further developed.

Table of contents :

General introduction
1. Challenge of peri-urban agriculture
1.1. A challenging future of peri-urban agriculture
1.2. Existing strategies for preserving peri-urban agricultural lands
1.3. Relations with “Urban Agriculture”
2. Ecosystem Services and agriculture
2.1. Definition of Ecosystem Services
2.2. Agro-ecosystem
2.3. Ecosystem Services and agriculture
2.4. Challenges of Ecosystem Services in agricultural research
3. Multifunctional Agriculture
3.1. Definition of Multifunctional Agriculture
3.2. Role of MFA in the policies of France and Europe
3.3. Future of MFA
4. Integrated approaches of ES and MFA
5. Objectives of the dissertation
5.1. Development of an integrated framework of ES and MFA for peri-urban agriculture
5.1.1. Comparative review of MFA and ES in agricultural research
5.1.2. Further development of the integrated framework for peri-urban agriculture
5.1.3. Application in the case of Ile-de-France Region
5.2. In-depth studies on abandoned farmlands and agricultural recycling of urban wastes
5.2.1. Management of abandoned lands in peri-urban agriculture
5.2.2. Agricultural recycling of urban organic wastes
5.2.3. Proceeding with a land use type v.s. a service/function
5.3. Multi-level analyzes for the two in-depth studies
5.3.1. Multi-level issue in the management of abandoned farmlands
5.3.2. Multi-level issue in the agricultural recycling of urban waste
6. Structure of the dissertation
Part 1 Development of an integrated framework of MFA and ES for peri-urban agriculture
Chapter 1 Comparative Review of Multifunctionality and Ecosystem Services in Sustainable Agriculture
1. Introduction
2. Literature review of multifunctional agriculture and ecosystem services
2.1. Publication statistics
2.2. Ideological bases of MFA and ES
2.2.1. Historical use of the term “function” in MFA and ES
2.2.2. Provision mechanisms of MFA and ES
2.2.3 Farm-centred approaches versus service-centred approaches
2.3. Comparison of MFA and ES research approaches
2.3.1. Identification and classification of functions/ecosystem services
2.3.2. Quantification, valuation, and mapping of functions/ecosystem services
2.3.3. Trade-offs and synergies between functions/ecosystem services
2.3.4. MFA design and ES management
3. Towards an integrated research framework for multifunctional agriculture and ecosystem
3.1. Bundle of ES and spectrum of MFA
3.2. Land-sharing versus land-sparing
3.3. An integrated conceptual framework of MFA and ES
4. Conclusions
Chapter 2 Evolution of agricultural land use in the Ile-de-France Region
1. Study area and methods
1.1. Study area
1.2. Methods
2. Results
2.1. Consumption of cultivable lands by urbanization
2.1.1. Continual urban extension before 1960s
2.1.2. Peri-urbanization and sub-center construction since 1960s
2.2. Evolution of agricultural land use
2.2.1. Structure of arable lands
2.2.2. Evolution of agricultural land use
2.3. Comparison between urban consumption of cultivable lands and the evolution of utilized agricultural lands
2.3.1. Fast urban consumption of agricultural lands drives fast land abandonment
2.3.2. Peri-urban agricultural land use pattern under urban influences
Chapter 3 Integrated framework of MFA and ES for peri-urban agriculture and application in Ile-de-France Region
1. An integrated framework of MFA and ES for peri-urban agriculture
2. Application of the framework in Ile-de-France Region
2.1. Food production ES and related social and economic functions
2.1.1. Food supply function
2.1.2. Function of economic revenue and employment
2.2. Alternative functions and related ES
2.2.1. Landscape aesthetic and cultural ES and related functions
2.2.2. Function of urban waste recycling and related ES
2.2.3 Environmental functions for maintenance of regulating and supporting ES
Part 2 Managing Abandoned Farmlands in Peri-Urban Area: a Multi-level Approach in the case of Ile-de- France Region
Chapter 4 Materials and methodology of the study on abandoned farmlands in Ile-de-France
1. Study area and selection of local study sites
1.1. Abandoned farmlands in Ile-de-France Region
1.2. Selection of two local study sites
2. Identification of the principal land use trajectories and abandoned lands
2.1. Land use data
2.2. Computing and selection of the principal land use change trajectories
3. Classification of municipalities to identify different situations of abandonment
3.1. Indicators used for the clustering analysis
3.2. Clustering analysis on municipalities
3.3. Comparing the phenomenon of abandonment in the four groups of municipalities
4. Temporal evolution in the appearance and reuse of abandoned farmlands
5. Interviews with different actors in two local areas
5.1. Carrying out the interviews
5.2. Analysis of the interviews
Chapter 5 Results of the study on abandoned farmlands in Ile-de-France
1. Principal land use changes and the distribution of farmland abandonment
1.1. The principal land use change trajectories
1.2. Spatial distribution of land use changes and abandoned farmlands
2. Classification of municipalities and the different situations of abandonment
2.1. Naming the factors
2.2. Results of the classification
2.3. Differences among groups and test of significance
2.4. Different situations of abandoned lands among the four groups
2.4.1. Cluster 2: municipalities with strong rural characteristics
2.4.2. Cluster 3: highly urbanized municipalities
2.4.3. Cluster 6: municipalities in strong land abandonment because of non-urban factors 107
2.4.4. Cluster 7: municipalities in strong peri-urbanization
3. Evolution of the appearance and reuse of abandoned agricultural lands
4. Social perceptions of ecosystem services and functions of abandoned farmlands
4.1. Differences among actors at different levels
4.1.1. At the individual level
4.1.2. At the municipal level
4.1.3. Coordination of the PNR of Chevreuse
4.2. Comparison of social perceptions between two study areas
4.2.1. Convergences between the two areas
4.2.2. Divergences between the two areas
4.3. Three categories of actors identified with hierarchical clustering analysis
Part 3 Multiscale Influences on the Supply-Demand Relationships of Urban Waste Recycling in Peri-urban Agriculture in the Ile-de-France Region
Chapter 6 Materials and methodology of the study on agricultural recycling of urban wastes in the Ile-de- France Region
1. Study area and selection of local study sites
1.1. Study area
1.2. Selection of two local study sites
2. Methods to analyze the regional pattern of supply-demand relationships of sewage sludge land application
2.1. Regional pattern of sewage sludge production
2.2. Distribution of suitable agricultural lands for sewage sludge application
2.2.1. Identification of lands of “Grande Culture”
2.2.2. Considering the limitation of regulations
2.2.3. Municipal potential for land application of sewage sludge
2.3. Spatial flows of sewage sludge through land application in Seine-et-Marne
2.4. Estimation on crop succession pattern in Ile-de-France
3. Interviews and analysis on multiscale influences on the supply-demand relationships
Chapter 7 Results of the study on agricultural recycling of urban waste in the Ile-de-France Region
1. Regional pattern of supply-demand relationship of sewage sludge for land application
1.1. The side of sewage sludge production in Ile-de-France
1.1.1. Statistics of the production and outlets of sewage sludge
1.1.2. Spatial pattern of sewage sludge production
1.2. Municipal potential regarding agricultural lands suitable for sewage sludge application 150
1.2.1. General structure of agricultural lands in Ile-de-France
1.2.2. Area of agricultural lands suitable for sewage sludge application at the municipal level
1.3. Spatial flows of sewage sludge through land application in Seine-et-Marne
1.3.1. An overall picture of the spatial flows in Seine-et-Marne
1.3.2. Spatial flows of sewage sludge from particular plants
1.4. Estimation of the regional pattern of crop succession
1.4.1. Preferences to crop types and periods for sewage sludge application
1.4.2. Estimation of crop succession pattern in Ile-de-France
2. Multiscale influences on the supply-demand relationships of urban waste recycling in periurban
2.1. A framework about the multiscale influences on supply-demand relationship
2.1.1. At individual scale
2.1.2. At the scale of local area
2.1.3. Regulations at superior scales
2.1.4. Interscale influences
2.2. Categories of farmers regarding urban waste use
General discussions
1. An integrated framework of MFA and ES for peri-urban agriculture
1.1. Value of the integrated framework for peri-urban agricultural research
1.2. The remaining question of defining ES and agricultural functions
1.3. Interaction between the different ES/functions
2. Considering the mutual relations between land use and ES/MFA
2.1. Mutual action between land use and ES/MFA
2.2. The mutual acting mechanism between land use and ES/function in the management of abandoned farmlands in peri-urban areas
3. Mutual services between actors in agricultural recycling of urban waste
3.1. Mutual services between farmers and waste producers in the agricultural recycling of urban waste
3.2. Implications to Payments for Ecosystem Services/Environmental Services
4. Multi-scale influences and scale mismatch
5. Methodology
5.1. Two in-depth studies
5.2. Multi-level approach
5.2.1. Considering the regional pattern
5.2.2. Inconsistence in the results between regional study and local investigations
6. Operational implications
6.1. Management of abandoned farmlands in peri-urban area
6.2. Improve the system of agricultural recycling of urban waste


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