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Accounting for Regional Heterogeneity of Agricultural Sustainability in Spain

AuthorsMili, Samir ; Martínez Vega, Javier
Sustainability assessment
Province level
Issue Date2019
PublisherMolecular Diversity Preservation International
CitationSustainability 11(2): 299(2019)
AbstractAgriculture is increasingly facing major challenges such as climate change, scarcity of natural resources and changing societal demands. To tackle these challenges there is a pressing need to evolve towards more sustainable agricultural practices. As a result, sustainability stands among the most relevant topics in agricultural research worldwide, and Spain is no exception. Agricultural sustainability has been analysed in Spain mainly at a national and farm scale. This contribution aims at assessing agricultural sustainability in Spain at a provincial scale, allowing the scrutiny of regional variability induced by the existing differences in extension, relevance and policies of the agricultural activity at this level. The sustainability assessment performed is based on a selection of twenty-two indicators covering the three classical dimensions of sustainability—environmental, economic and social. The methodology implemented is based on normalising and aggregating selected indicators according to three composite indicators for the fifty Spanish provinces. Numerous statistical and cartographic sources are used. Cluster analysis establishes four different groups of provinces according to their performance in terms of agricultural sustainability. Higher economic sustainability in provincial agriculture seems to be mostly associated with more intensive use of agricultural labour and agricultural machinery and faster wealth growth. Social sustainability seems to be linked to greater diversification of economic activities and to quality productions under Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI). Best environmental sustainability is achieved where extension of agricultural land is larger, less agricultural area is burned, and carbon stock and sequestration by agricultural ecosystems is better. It is expected that the results could improve the policy coherence and decision-making for more sustainable agricultural systems in Spanish regions.
Publisher version (URL)https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/2/299
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