How effective are on-farm conservation land management strategies for preserving ecosystem services in developing countries? A systematic map protocol

Jessica Paula Rose Thorn, Jake Snaddon, Anthony Waldren, Kasper Kok, Wen Zhou, Shonil Bhagwat, Kathy Willis, Gillian Petrokofsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: An extensive body of literature in the field of agro-ecology claims to show the positive effects that maintenance of ecosystem services can have on sustainably meeting future food demand, by making farms more productive and resilient, and contributing to better nutrition and livelihoods of farmers. In Africa alone, some research has estimated a two-fold yield increase if food producers capitalize on new and existing knowledge from science and technology. Site-specific strategies adopted with the aim of improving ecosystem services may incorporate principles of multifunctional agriculture, sustainable intensification and conservation agriculture. However, a coherent synthesis and review of the evidence of these claims is largely absent, and the quality of much of this literature is questionable. Moreover, inconsistent effects have commonly been reported, while empirical evidence to support assumed improvements is largely lacking. Objectives: This systematic map is stimulated by an interest to (1) collate evidence on the effectiveness of on-farm conservation land management for preserving and enhancing ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes, by drawing together the currently fragmented and multidisciplinary literature base, and (2) geographically map what indicators have been used to assess on-farm conservation land management. For both questions, we will focus on 74 low-income and developing countries, where much of the world’s agricultural expansion is occurring, yet 80% of arable land is already used and croplands are yielding well below their potential. Methods/Design: To this end, reviewers will systematically search bibliographic databases for peer-reviewed research from Web of Science, SCOPUS, AGRICOLA, AGRIS databases and CAB abstracts, and grey literature from Google Scholar, and 22 subject-specific or institutional websites. Boolean search operators will be used to create search strings where applicable. Ecosystem services included in the study are pollination services; pest-, carbon-, soil-, and water-regulation; nutrient cycling; medicinal and aromatic plants; fuel wood and cultural services. Outputs of the systematic map will include a database, technical report and an online interactive map, searchable by topic. The results of this map are expected to provide clarity about synergistic outcomes of conservation land management, which will help support local decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Evidence
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2015


  • Agro-ecology
  • Conservation agriculture
  • Sustainable intensification
  • Ecosystem services
  • In-field assessment
  • Site-specific management
  • Land-sharing
  • Decision-making
  • Evidence-based environmental policy

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