The Polish case study region “Chłapowski Landscape Park” is located in the district “Wielkopolska” in the Central-West part of Poland. The study region covers 172.2 km² and consists of the four municipalities: Kościan, Czempin, Krzywin and Śrem. The region is characterized by typical agricultural lowland landscape, rich in small-structured landscape elements like field ponds, water catchments and shelterbelts. The landscape park was established in 1992. The main goal of its establishment was protection of cultural and agricultural landscapes and “promoting modern, sustainable ways of farming in optimally arranged agricultural landscape”. The park is managed by the Research Station of the Department of Agricultural and Forest Environment of the Polish Academy of Science. The region is well-known for landscape engineering establishments of General Dezydery Chłapowski (XIX century) – mainly shelterbelts (rows of trees) protecting fields from wind. Area of the park is also rich in historic buildings like manor houses in Racot, Kopaszewo, and churches. The green pathways created by windbreaks and local architecture encourage tourists to come for short term visits for biking or walking.
Agriculture in the region is semi-intensive and characterized by coexistence of large scale commercial farms (up to 2,500 ha) and medium size family farms (20-30 ha) with crops, milk and pigs production. The medium sandy soils in the region cause a high risk of wind erosion, which strongly affect the agricultural production and landscape. The average share of the arable land in the Kościan region (NUTS4), where the park is situated is 65.5%. Grasslands cover 8.6% and forests 14.8%.
Availability of good and medium quality soils, lowland and flat area provide good conditions for crop farming. The climate is advantageous for agricultural production – moderate with both maritime and continental elements. The structure of agricultural land is dominated by crops (65.5%) – mainly grains. The average farm size is 19 ha and is larger by 32% then the District average. Chlapowski Park has also good natural conditions for animal production. There are 3,317 farms in the region (NUTS4), from which about 71% have animals, mainly dairy cattle and pigs. Typical management practices applied in the region are characteristic for conventional farming with mixed, organic-mineral fertilization (ca. 90 kg N/ha), chemical crop protection, no irrigation, cereals dominated rotations and 12% of grasslands.
The flat and lowland area with sandy soils is especially affected by the wind and water erosion. To mitigate this risk the windbreaks – rows of trees, were introduced. These green linear rows shape and diversify the otherwise rather homogeneous landscape of the region. They protect the fields against the wind erosion, reduce water deficit and support development of biodiversity (as habitats for different animals and birds). The local stakeholders emphasised that this characteristic landscape element allows to increase yields of agricultural production and to produce crops, which would not grow in these conditions, if there was no protection against wind erosion, e.g. sugar beets and oilseed rape.
The following pictures (Figure 2a-c) present the structure of landscape typical for the Chlapowski Landscape Park (Turew) and for two municipalities adjacent to the park – Kobylniki and Czempin.
In some more details the characteristics of landscapes in the Chlapowski Park and two adjacent areas selected for comparisons are presented in table 1.
The agricultural landscape in the park is mainly shaped by the shelterbelts in-between the fields and rows of trees (linear elements) along the roads. Concentration of this element in the case study region is almost two times greater than in the neighbouring regions (53 meters/ha vs. 27 and 39 m/ha). The landscape composition is more diversified in the Park than in the two other studied regions. It can be expressed by a lower landscape complexity index (Shannon) and Herfindhal Hirshman concentration index. The selected regions have a similar built-up area (about 2.6-2.8%), but differ in terms of the share of agricultural land, green-linear elements, forests and water reservoirs. The share of manor parks is also double in case of the Chlapowski park, comparing to neighbouring regions.
The main landscape services in the CSA are food provisioning, regulating (mainly wind-erosion) and cultural. Provisioning and regulating services are directly linked to agricultural activities. Provisioning is the main output of agriculture (food provision), and depends largely on regulating services provided by shelterbelts. Provision of wood is less important in this region and can be attributed to shelterbelts (4% of area of the park) and forests (11%).
Regarding regulating services, shelterbelts have a very important regulation function in this region, protecting the fields against wind and water erosion, and regulating the water and nutrient cycle. Existence of this landscape element allows to increase yields of agricultural production and to produce crops which would not grow in these conditions, if there was no protection against wind, e.g. sugar beets and oilseed rape.
Agricultural landscape usually is less attractive to cultural and recreation use. However Chlapowski Landscape Park is famous for its specific landscape, shaped by agriculture and characteristic shelterbelts creating green-paths along the roads and fields. This was confirmed by the ad-hoc study questionnaire in which we asked tourists for their reasons of visits. Area of the Park is also rich in historic buildings like manor houses in Racot, Kopaszewo, and churches. The pathways created by windbreaks and local architecture encourage tourists to come for short term visits for biking or walking.
Forestry management and wind-breaks maintenance is influencing habitat and supporting services. It contributes to the existence of rare species (fauna and flora) living and breeding in the trees, and thus it contributes to rich biodiversity of the region.
Depending on the type of service, different group of beneficiary actors are identified. Local agriculture benefits mainly from regulating services (wind and water erosion prevention, water and nutrient balance, bio-control) and provision of fresh water. Local and regional tourism benefit from (i) regulating services (presence of windbreaks and forests regulating air quality and climate), (ii) cultural services (recreation and aesthetic appreciation, spiritual experience and sense of place) and (iii) supporting services (habitats for species). Local and regional trade, industry and services benefit from (i) provisioning services (food and raw materials – wood provision) and (ii) regulating services (bio-control, windbreaks). Local and regional societies benefit from (i) provision services (food provision), (ii) regulating services (climate and air quality), (iii) cultural services (recreation and health, aesthetic appreciation, spiritual experience and sense of place) and (iv) supporting services (habitats for species).
Agata Malak-Rawlikowska, Edward Majewski
Warsaw University of Life Sciences - SGGW
ul. Nowoursynowska 166, 02-787 Warsaw Poland.