Recent Developments in Indicators and Models for Agri-environmental Assessment
AbstractOver the years there has been a remarkable development in agricultural and environmental sciences and the public is growing increasingly concerned about the relations between agriculture and the environment, and about the sustainability of agricultural production systems in many parts of the world. Policy makers and the general public have asked the scientific community to make more information available, and a great wealth of research studies have been conducted and published in recent years. Many studies include in-depth analyses of agricultural systems based on simulation models for various purposes: understanding the mechanisms involved, comparing alternative scenarios and supporting and evaluating policy measures. Indicators are also frequently used to provide concise quantitative figures of various aspects (economic or productive performances, environmental impacts, etc.) and to communicate them to a broad audience. This paper offers a survey of the recent literature dealing with agri-environmental issues and, in particular, of those references presenting the use of models and indicators for the assessment of agricultural systems and their effects on environmental compartments (water, soil, air), from multiple disciplinary perspectives, and at various scales. The references examined for this paper have been classified in order to group the papers according to various criteria, thus facilitating the identification of relevant references, and to compare their contents. The methodological approaches are analysed and compared in order to highlight the contributions of the scientific literature to the assessment of agro-ecosystems and agri-environmental policies.
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