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Managing abandoned farmland: the need to link biological and sociological aspects.

  • Benjamin, Karyne
  • Bouchard, André
  • Domon, Gérald
Published Article
Environmental management
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2008
DOI: 10.1007/s00267-008-9176-5
PMID: 18600374


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.

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