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Environmental Management

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 603–619 | Cite as

Managing Abandoned Farmland: The Need to Link Biological and Sociological Aspects

  • Karyne BenjaminEmail author
  • André Bouchard
  • Gérald Domon
Article

Abstract

The lack of a particular use associated with abandoned farmland provides real opportunities with respect to the various land-use pressures occurring in productive territories. These environments remain generally poorly known and, because of this, require in-depth studies on the feasibility of management options, on biological as well as social grounds. This study, based on research on the biophysical potential and the perceptions by the owners of abandoned farmlands, analyzes the feasibility of silvicultural management options to improve forestry potential. Using a questionnaire, we surveyed abandoned farmland owners on different aspects of the status of their abandoned farmland in order to determine their willingness toward the management of these private lands. The land owners were also asked to express their interests and their constraints toward various types of interventions, with an emphasis on silvicultural work. The data were analyzed using multivariate methods to establish relationships between the questionnaire data and the characteristics of the land owners (socioeconomic profile and value system toward the environment). The results show that, in general, abandoned farmland is an unwanted space, is generally little used, is poorly known, and has little importance in the plans of its owners. We have found three types of owner profiles; the owners with a farmer’s profile are those who are the most interested in managing their abandoned farmland, whether for agriculture or silviculture. The desire to improve abandoned farmland seems less important to owners with an ecocentric profile (high awareness of the environment) and to older owners. Finally, by associating the type of abandoned farmland owned and the characteristics of the owners, it is possible to propose different management options that reconcile the wishes of the owners as well as the biophysical potential of their abandoned farmland.

Keywords

Abandoned farmland Land owners Management Perception Reforestation Multivariate analysis 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was conducted with the support of a Fond québéçois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies (FQRNT) team research grant to A. Bouchard, A. Cogliastro, G. Domon, and D. Marceau, an NSERC individual grant to A. Bouchard, an SSHRC grant to G. Domon, and a FCAR graduate scholarship to K. Benjamin. We are grateful to P. Legendre and S. Daigle for their advice on statistical analyses. We wish to thank all of the owners of abandoned farmlands who participated in this study. We also thank the four reviewers of this paper for their constructive comments on the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karyne Benjamin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • André Bouchard
    • 2
  • Gérald Domon
    • 1
  1. 1.Chaire en Paysage et environnement, Faculté de l’AménagementUniversité de MontréalQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Institut de recherche en biologie végétale, Département des sciences biologiquesUniversité de MontréalQuébecCanada

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