Biodiversity in Agriculture: Understanding it Better and Promoting it More Systematically

Agroscope has highlighted for the first time the factors that are key for the targeted, large-scaled promotion of biodiversity in agriculture. Focusing on agriculture as a whole is especially important.

An intact biodiversity is of key importance for food production that remains resilient over the long term. Crop pollination and pest control, for example, are dependent on diverse flora and fauna. But what factors are crucial for the preservation of biodiversity in the agricultural landscape?

Based on the biodiversity survey conducted by the Agricultural Species and Habitats Monitoring Programme (ALL-EMA), Agroscope has investigated what factors are associated with the biodiversity of the Swiss agricultural landscape. Unlike previously, the researchers investigated species decline in the agricultural landscape not only on individual plots, but in entire landscapes. They also took indirect correlations into account, e.g. the different climatic and topographical conditions or the habitat diversity of the agricultural landscape in various regions.

Reducing land-use intensity – promoting biodiversity

The study shows that both land-use intensity and the ecological focus areas directly influence biodiversity. High land-use intensity has a strong negative impact on biodiversity, whilst a landscape with a sufficiently high proportion of ecological focus areas promotes biodiversity. In other words, although ecological focus areas have a positive effect on biodiversity, support for biodiversity must also be integrated into production. An overall less-intensive, site-adapted management strategy is required.

Increasing habitat diversity promotes biodiversity

The study also brings further effects to light: for example, ecological focus areas provide especially high added value when they are set up so as to increase habitat diversity in the regional agricultural context. In order to optimally meet the needs of different animals and plants, they should, among others, offer suitable habitats and a sufficient supply of food year-round.

Taking account of regional growing conditions

For targeted biodiversity promotion, regional growing conditions must also be taken into account. Thus, in regions with good growing conditions it is especially important to actively take measures in favour of biodiversity, since the natural conditions in such regions would also be advantageous for biodiversity. However, it is precisely in these regions that biodiversity is under severe pressure, owing to intensive agricultural management.

The ALL-EMA Project is funded by the Federal Offices for the Environment (FOEN) and Agriculture (FOAG), and supervised by Agroscope researchers.


  • Ecological focus areas exert a positive impact on biodiversity by mitigating the negative effects of land-use intensity in agriculture.
  • To promote biodiversity, an overall less-intensive, site-adapted management approach that does not overtax the ecosystems is needed in addition to ecological focus areas.
  • High regional habitat diversity that can be increased through ecological focus areas is a further key factor for improving biodiversity.
  • Besides direct factors (agricultural interventions), indirect factors (climatic aspects or habitat diversity) also influence biodiversity in agricultural environments. These factors should be taken into account when setting up ecological focus areas in a landscape context.
To the archive