Environmental Management

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 241–259 | Cite as

Monitoring the Impact of Hedgerows and Grass Strips on the Performance of Multiple Ecosystem Service Indicators

  • Laura Van VoorenEmail author
  • Bert Reubens
  • Evy Ampoorter
  • Steven Broekx
  • Paul Pardon
  • Chris Van Waes
  • Kris Verheyen


The importance of semi-natural vegetation elements in the agricultural landscape is increasingly recognized because they have the potential to enhance multiple ecosystem service delivery and biodiversity. However, there is great variability in the observed effects within and between studies. Also, little is known about the simultaneous delivery of multiple ecosystem services and biodiversity because most studies focus on monitoring one service at a time and in conditions specifically suited to observe this one service. In this study, the results are presented of 1 year of monitoring of a set of parcel-level and simplistic ecosystem service and biodiversity indicators on parcels with grass strips or hedgerows. In the grass strips, an increase in soil organic carbon stock, a decrease in soil mineral nitrogen content, a different carabid species composition and a higher spider activity density were found, compared to the adjacent arable parcel. These results indicate a contribution of grass strips to climate regulation, the regulation of water quality, an increase of beta diversity and potential for pest control. Next to hedgerows, crop yield was reduced and winter wheat thousand kernel weight, soil organic carbon stock and spider activity density were increased. These indicators show an effect of the hedgerow on food production, climate regulation and potential for pest control. The study concludes that both grass strips and hedgerows have the potential to increase multiple ecosystem service delivery, but that an increase of every service is not assured and that multifunctionality is affected by management choices. Also, an improved experimental setup in order to enhance ecosystem service monitoring is suggested.


Agri-environment measures Agroecosystem Field margins Nutrients Soil carbon Yield 



The doctoral research of Laura Van Vooren was funded by the former Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT), now Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) [grant number 131121]. E.A. was supported via an ERC Consolidator Grant awarded to K.V. (PASTFORWARD project, Grant no 614839). We want to thank Geert De Smet, Geert Haverbeke, Koen De Mey, Erwin De Clercq, Joost Walraet, Wim De Moerloze and Peter Berckmoes. Without their efforts, this research would not have been possible. We are grateful to Greet De Bruyn, Luc Willems, Jasmien De Clerck and Koen Van Loo for their help with the sample analyses. We also want to thank Tommy D’Hose, Thijs Vanden Nest, Bart Vandecasteele, Victoria Nelissen and Pallieter De Smedt for their contribution to the data interpretation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forest & Nature LabGhent UniversityGontrodeBelgium
  2. 2.Flanders research institute for agriculture, fisheries and foodMerelbekeBelgium
  3. 3.VITOBoeretang 200Belgium
  4. 4.Department of Plant ProductionGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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