The transformation of vineyard landscapes is evaluated in this article by assessing the changes in land cover and landscape diversity in selected study areas in two time periods – from 1867 to 1949, and from then to 2016. The study areas are characterised by a long history of viticulture and with important occurrences of old and new agrarian relief forms. Fine-scale land cover and landscape diversity analysis, as well as the study of historical and strategic documents, enabled an accurate interpretation of the viticultural landscape trajectories and their drivers. Landscape diversity was computed using the Shannon diversity index for each 625 square metre grid unit, and applying other metrics for the entire study area. Our research established that the study areas oscillated during this period between extensification and agricultural intensification, and the general trend confirmed the disappearance of traditional vineyards and a decline in modernised vineyard areas after socialism. Although extensification and intensification are seemingly contradictory processes, it is established that these both increase landscape diversity. In addition, landscape diversity changes in the second period are influenced more by changes in quantitative landscape pattern characteristics via edge density than qualitative patterns, e.g. patch richness, which reflect land use diversity.
Driving Forces, Threats and Trends Relating to Mosaics in Agricultural Landscape in Slovakia
The present cultural landscape is a result of development which has been carried out for several thousand years. The land - use changes, driving forces, threats and trends relating to agricultural landscape mosaics in Slovakia were studied using examples of model areas with preserved landscape mosaics: the villages Zuberec - Habovka, Liptovská Teplička, Osturňa and the town of Svätý Jur.
The primary land cover of the Slovak republic was mostly forest. The outstanding feature of the landscape, as a result of settlement, deforestation and colonisation, was a landscape characterised by a high biodiversity and cultural mosaic because of the heterogeneity of land forms and cover, relief segmentation, and a variety of farming products. The most important interventions in the landscape started in the second half of the 20th century. Intensification of agriculture was linked with collectivisation and removal of hedges and riparian vegetation, decreasing the mosaic of arable fields, grasslands and woods. Landscape mosaics were transformed into large fields. Only in less accessible, less fertile localities was the original agricultural landscape partially preserved, and did not lose the shape of a cultural-historical countryside. At the same time, partial abandonment and reforestation has started as a consequence of changes in employment patterns and the decline of populations.
After 1990 the landscape was partly retrospectively diversified by virtue of land restitution. Although the decline of the traditional use of farmland is noticeable in Slovakia, in some regions local inhabitants are strongly linked to traditional land use. In less accessible, less fertile localities, abandonment of traditional agriculture and succession dominance of forest continues. The challenge to maintain the original agrarian landscape could be supported by agro-environmental schemes. However, localities with beneficial geographical positions are threatened. The town of Svätý Jur faces non-regulated urbanisation, old vineyards are being replaced by new villas and houses for recreation. The villages of Zuberec - Habovka face non regulated tourism. The marginal sites, Osturňa, Liptovská Teplička are threatened by abandonment and the subsequent overgrowth by woody vegetation.
Traditional agricultural landscapes (TALs) in Slovakia are mosaics of small-scale arable fields and permanent agricultural cultivations resulting from continuous succession over centuries. The objective in this paper is to develop a strategy for the protection and management of TAL in the Liptovská Teplička cadastral area, which has mountainous arable land and grassland TALs. Driving forces, threats and other trends related to these TALs were identified, based on the valuation of land-use changes, socioeconomic and demographic phenomena and on biodiversity and sociological research. The strategy was oriented towards optimal multi-functional utilization and management of the investigated landscapes