Traditional agricultural landscapes: research contribution to a new common agricultural policy (2014-2020) in Slovakia
One of specific measures of the European Landscape Convention (2000) aims to identify and assess own landscapes throughout countries. The assessment should take into account the particular natural and cultural values of the landscapes assigned to them by the interested parties and the population concerned. Traditional agricultural landscapes (TAL) in Slovakia represent particular ecosystems that consist of a mosaic of small-scale arable fields and permanent agricultural cultivations such as grasslands, vineyards and high-trunk orchards. These landscapes have irreplaceable ecological, cultural and historical value, and they becoming rare in the European scale perspective. Facing the disappearance of these traditional landscapes, an initial action was focused to get knowledge about their spatial distribution and the present state of the TAL in Slovakia. Aim of the initial research was to understand their role for biodiversity, mapping their threats, and to stimulate action for preserving their value. Totally 3009 polygons were identified from aerial photos, and 589 TAL polygons were visited in the field.
Based on the results of the countryside inventory, we analyzed management intensity of the TAL and its threats that were observed in the field. Results of the management intensity showed, that almost half of the TAL sites (41 %) are still regularly managed (with more than 70 % of the managed fields within the mosaic). The most significant threat to the TAL and its biodiversity has been succession in correlation with abandonment, less significant threats are connected to increasing of tourism, urban development and reforestation. They are driven by changed employment structure, depopulation of remote territories, decline of the mountain farming and at the same time a general intensification of agricultural use of the landscapes. Most of the areas with the present TAL are situated in marginal regions considering economic, demographic and social points of view. Major constraint for local inhabitants to maintain the TAL comes from insufficient governmental support. Recent conditions of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in Slovakia do not reflect existence of the TAL (narrow fields are not fitting to scheme), social capital in mountain areas (big administrative demands on farmers) and financial inability of individual farmers. The CAP prioritises the existence of larger farms with specialised workforce for necessary administration and acquisition of subsidies instead of extensive land management forms. Contrariwise preservation of the TAL deeply depends on the individual small-scale farming and the governmental support schemes.
The challenge of maintaining the TAL is addressed especially to politicians and planning focus groups that form the landscape development policy. We definitely argue that the concept of the TAL, clearly identified and evaluated by our research, should be recognised in financial instruments of the government to support sustainable development of rural landscapes. Main aim of our presentation is to provide an overview on complex research outputs regarding the TAL in the Slovakia and this way to contribute to a modification of the CAP (2014-2020). Our research is based on an interdisciplinary approach and methods include ecological identification and analyses, socio-economic evaluation, Geographical Information Systems interpretations, or participatory approaches involving local or national stakeholders.