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In-between spaces in agricultural landscapes


Head of Department Wenche Dramstad and Researcher Christian Pedersen.

Photo: Morten Günther

The Norwegian agricultural landscape is very important for food production and security. However, in between the fields there are small areas with great significance for the entirety of the landscape.

“We’re referring to roadside verges, stream banks, field islets, fallow meadows, field margins, vegetation lines and solitary trees. These small spaces are important for the ecosystems and the species that live there,” explains NIBIO researcher Christian Pedersen.

However, years of monitoring the agricultural landscape show that these spaces are disappearing as well as plant species important for pollinators. Bumblebees and wild bees compete for a constantly diminishing resource.

Managing the spaces

NIBIO has recently completed the three-year project “Status and change of in-between spaces in agricultural landscapes”. The researchers have been concerned with finding out how to manage the in-between spaces to avoid getting more of what is already found everywhere else.

“One question has been whether these areas should be mowed, and they probably should,” explains Head of Department Wenche Dramstad. In the past few decades, we have had increasingly fewer areas that are mowed without being in intensive agricultural production. However, there are many areas that are abandoned and experiencing secondary succession.

It is important not to mow too early. The insects must have access to nutrients throughout the summer months and not all areas should be mowed at the same time.

Increased focus on spaces desirable

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration has done a good job with roadside verges, but there is generally little knowledge about what exists in other in-between spaces.

The management of in-between spaces is mainly focused on preventing spread of undesirable organisms into arable land or secondary succession. In the future we should also focus on management promoting biodiversity and how in-between areas can contribute positively to the landscape.