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.
The studies focused on distribution and characteristic of small woodlands and trees as a typical feature of traditional agricultural landscapes (TAL) in Slovakia are missing or are rather local. The source data for this study was obtained from the national inventory of TAL performed in 2010-2012 in Slovakia, where woody vegetation was considered as one of the landscape elements creating mosaic of TAL. Based on the types of woodland present, which endow the landscape with a distinctive character and structure, we have divided TAL into five subtypes: 1) TAL with low occurrence of woodland – not more than 10 % of the site covered by woods, 2) TAL with spatial woodland formation, 3) TAL with solitaire trees dominant, 4) TAL with lines of trees or shrubs dominant, and 5) TAL with small woodland dominant.
The proportion of woodland was relatively low, as TAL with low occurrence of woodland (36 %) was the most extended subtype of TAL. The most common dominant woodland structure was lines of trees and shrubs, with significant occurrence in TAL of arable-land and grassland and TAL with dispersed settlement. They tended to occur on typical agrarian relief forms. Our evaluation was supported by statistical analyses focused on the relationships between woodland type on agrarian relief forms (mostly balks) and their biotic and abiotic characteristics (type of agrarian relief form, content of skeleton, width, height, its continuity, as well as continuity of wood cover)
Traditional agricultural landscapes are a mosaic of small-scale arable fields and permanent agricultural cultivations such as grasslands, vineyards and high-trunk orchards. Most of them are threatened by abandonment as they are usually situated in marginal mountain regions with less favourable conditions for agriculture. Our aim was to analyse the distribution of traditional agricultural landscapes in less favoured areas and the effects of the supportive measures of the Common Agricultural Policy, which are oriented towards helping farmers from these areas in maintaining traditional agriculture. Except for traditional agricultural vineyard landscapes, almost all TAL plots are situated in less favoured areas. Most of them are located in mountain areas with less favourable conditions for agriculture. Abandonment of traditional agricultural landscape inside the less favoured areas is significantly higher than in locations elsewhere. The supportive measures of the Common Agricultural Policy do not effectively mitigate this abandonment. If we would like to maintain traditional agricultural landscape in less favoured areas, it is necessary to stop the existing negative trend of abandonment and search for new ways to motivate farmers to continue their traditional farming by adjusting the conditions of the common agricultural policy to benefit small farmers as well.
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