Background

The common intensified agricultural practices are a major driver of present declines in insect diversity and biomass in Germany. Important stress factors for insects are

  1. Monotonization of agricultural areas due to narrow crop rotations paired with a loss of landscape structures and semi-natural habitats,
  2. Short timed, universal management (tillage, mowing, harvesting) of large areas and therefore loss of refuges,
  3. Decline of species rich grasslands through under-usage of marginal locations on one hand, and intensification of productive locations on the hand, and
  4. Intensive pest management and the usage of chemical pesticides.

Research and implementation of measures that counteract these stress factors often focus on merely one factor, disregarding their interactions, and/or are operating on field or farm scale. As many insects are switching between habitats and require different habitats during the course of a day or year, or throughout their lifespan for survival and reproduction, these approaches often fall short for deriving options for action in politics and agriculture. Within the scope of the German “Aktionsprogramm Insektenschutz” (action programme for insect conservation) FInAL therefore aims to establish Landscape Laboratories within representative agricultural landscapes in Germany, in which innovative and complex measures can be developed, tested, demonstrated, and implemented exemplarily within a landscape context.

The establishment of Landscape Laboratories is based on guiding principles. A systematic approach was chosen that involves cultivated as well as non-cultivated areas in specific landscape sections. A spectrum of insect groups as well as ecosystem services provided by these insects are monitored and analyzed. Further, possible interactions with other organismal groups and ecosystem services are regarded in the evaluation process.

From the very beginning, the establishment of the Landscape Laboratories is accompanied by a co-design-process that guarantees practicability. The evaluation of transferability to other agricultural areas incorporates two perspectives: the spatial and the socio-economic perspective.

A special emphasis lays on innovations (product-innovation, process-innovation, technical-innovation) and their up- and out-scaling.