Trends in High Nature Value farmland studies: A systematic review

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Abstract

Background. Since the High Nature Value (HNV) concept was defined in the early 1990s, several studies on HNV farmland has been increasing over the past 30 years in Europe, highlighting the interest by scientific community of HNV farming systems supporting biodiversity conservation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the trends and main gaps on HNV farmland peer-reviewed publications in order to contribute to the effectiveness of future research in this field. Methods. Searches were conducted using the databases Web of SciencesTM and Scopus in order to identify only peer-reviewed articles on HNV farmland, published prior to July 2017. The inclusion and exclusion criteria were developed a priori. Data as year, country, type of document, subject area, taxa studied and biodiversity metrics assessed were extracted and explored in order to analyse the spatial and temporal distribution of the concept, including the main topics addressed in HNV farmland literature. Results. After screening 308 original articles, 90 were selected for this review. HNV farmland studies involved several disciplines, mainly biodiversity and conservation and environmental sciences and ecology. Most peer-reviewed articles focused on HNV farming were conducted in Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal. The main studied taxa were plants and birds. Taxonomic diversity was the biodiversity metric more often used to assess the biodiversity status on HNV farmland areas. A positive correlation was found between HNV farmland area and HNV farmland studies conducted in respective countries. Discussion. The HNV farmland research subject is a relative novel approach, and this systematic review provides a comprehensive overview about the main topics in the HNV farmland peer-reviewed literature contributing to highlight the main gaps and provide some considerations in order to assist the performance of HNV farming systems and conservation policies, addressed to sustain high levels of biodiversity.

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