Challenges and choices for the future monitoring of agricultural landscapes in Norway.

Authors and Affiliations: 

Grete Stokstad, Wendy Fjellstad and Svein Olav Kr√łgli

Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute


Designing a landscape monitoring programme is a major task and, ideally, changes in methodology over time should be avoided. However, some of the aims of the programme may change over time, in line with for example changes in the questions asked from authorities, and changes in available financing. Some changes in methodology may therefore be necessary. In this paper we discuss challenges and lessons learned in working with the Norwegian Monitoring Program for Agricultural Landscapes (the 3Q Programme), and explain choices made for the future monitoring of agriculture landscapes in Norway.

The 3Q Programme is a sample-based monitoring programme based on the interpretation of aerial photographs and detailed mapping of 1x1km sample squares. The programme delivers information on landscape status and change, reporting indicators for a wide range of topics. At present, squares from all over Norway have been mapped twice, and we have reported on both regional and national status and change. Based on our experience with reporting and the demand for data by the authorities and for research purposes, we have decided to makes changes in our data collection. Since the monitoring programme began, and partly as a result of the data from the first survey, there has been an increasing interest in Norway in marginal agricultural areas. One consequence of this has been changes in the system of agricultural subsidies that may now target areas that formerly were considered beyond the responsibility of the agricultural sector. The original 3Q sampling method was designed to capture as much agricultural land as possible, where agricultural land was defined as cultivated land and in-field pasture. These were considered the most important areas to monitor by the principal financer, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. However, many of the multiple functions of agricultural landscapes (e.g. provision of biodiversity, cultural heritage and recreation) are dependent on more marginal agricultural areas, such as rough grassland and outfield grazing land. These are also the areas that are subject to greatest change. The original 3Q sample provided quite uncertain results (large standard deviations) for these areas, especially for changes that may be large locally, but that occur seldom. This is one of the reasons we have now established a new sample of 1x1 km squares to report from in the future.