The importance of organic farming for nature conservation from an ecosystem theory perspective by Prof. Dr. Ludwig Maurer
The terrestrial ecosystems can be divided into two groups:
Natural landscapes are those in which succession can take place without active anthropogenic influence, i.e. dynamic systems whose dynamics are determined by endogenous factors such as the genetic information contained in the organisms and exogenous site factors such as climate.
The organisms are interconnected by food chains (circulation of substances). This networking is characterised by the principle of homeostasis, i.e. the endeavour to maintain energetic equilibrium states with the effect of negentropic order patterns.
A longer-term state of equilibrium is defined by the existing species diversity and population density and is called the climax stage.
Due to mutations, crossings, selection, and changes in exogenous factors, climax stages are also not stable regarding geological periods but build up new order patterns due to the changed framework conditions.
The processes in natural landscapes influence the exogenous factors (e.g. climate) in the sense of interaction. Nature conservation for natural landscapes, therefore, means to let the self-dynamic development of these ecosystems run undisturbed.
In such systems humans have the role of observers, unless they are embedded in the food chain as hunter-gatherers.
Cultural landscapes are habitats developed and designed by humans from natural landscapes, whose appearance and functionality depend on the type and intensity of use.
The strategies of use can be oriented towards the system processes in natural landscapes or can deviate strongly from them. However, in contrast to natural landscapes, all strategies of use require work to maintain the respective system of use.
The more regularities of natural landscapes are applied as use strategies, the more the term "ecologically oriented" is permissible.
In the field of agriculture, organic farming is an ecologically oriented utilisation strategy for the production of food and biogenic raw materials.
This is because:
- Recycling of materials (use of organic fertiliser - animal manure and compost)
- Establishment of species diversity possible under production conditions to limit the use of biocides (landscaping as a contribution to the optimisation of the microclimate and as a retreat for fauna and flora, diverse and site-appropriate crop rotation with suitable breeding)
- Use of ecosystem regulation mechanisms (predator-prey, competition) for pest and weed control
- Limitation of the extent of livestock farming in relation to production areas
- The predominant use of feed from this production area (recycling of materials)
Through these measures, organic farming ensures the establishment of the highest possible species diversity under production conditions, both in the landscape and in the soil, although in the case of organic farming, succession must be prevented through labour.
This is the contribution of organic farming to "nature conservation" in agriculturally used cultural landscapes.
Irrespective of the fact that from an ecosystem theory point of view the term nature conservation should be replaced by the terms "quantitative natural landscape conservation (system protection)" and "ecologically oriented cultural landscape design (working methods)", it is retained here as a working title, although the term nature is not defined in any way, except perhaps as a collective term for non-developed areas in general usage.
Also, the term protection is often misleading, especially when it comes to the protection of individual animal or plant species: If there is no system protection in natural landscapes and no ecologically oriented use in cultural landscapes, the protection of individual animal and plant species will be of little use.
Biologically managed cultural landscape areas are the ideal transition zone from natural landscapes (e.g. core zones of national parks) to such cultural landscapes that contain only a few elements of natural landscapes (densely built-up landscape areas, industrial areas, transport modes, etc.).
This is the contribution of organic farming to "nature conservation" for natural landscapes in the sense of minimising the influence (exogenous factors) of cultural landscapes on natural landscapes.
Besides, organic farming also has benefits in terms of environmental protection (here too, from a systematic point of view, a better term would be "prevention of biosphere intoxication") - groundwater pollution control, soil protection, climate protection - by replacing biocides and easily water-soluble N-fertilisers with production technology measures and adherence to production area-related upper limits for livestock farming.
It is undisputed that the preservation of natural landscapes worldwide is today a necessity, also regarding the interactions with cultural landscapes described here.
System conservation of natural landscapes as well as for the ecologically oriented use and design of cultural landscapes.