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Kick-off SECBIVIT: vineyards produce more than wine

Viticulture, the cultivation of grapes, is among the oldest and most profitable forms of agriculture. But your glass of Chardonnay is also produced by one of the most intensive forms of agriculture, negatively affecting biodiversity and the benefits for people ecosystems generate. This week, the international SECBIVIT (Scenarios for providing multiple ecosystem services and biodiversity in viticultural landscapes) project has kicked off in Vienna, Austria.

Dr Nina Schwarz of the ITC PGM department leads a part of this three year €1.5 million project with partners from Austria (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), Germany (Julius Kühn-Institute - Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants; University of Göttingen; University Koblenz-Landau), Spain (Agencia Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas - CSIC), France (French National Institute for Agricultural Research - INRA), Romania (University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca) and the United States (University of California, Davis). The project is funded by a joint call of the Belmont Forum and the ERA-NET BiodivERsA network, which aims to strengthen research on climate scenarios for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Alternative forms of grape cultivation

The SECBIVIT project will develop and test different model frameworks to explore alternative forms of grape cultivation to better balance grape production, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service supply for different climate and policies scenarios in various European viticultural regions. ITC will be in charge of modelling how winegrowers’ decision making on pest management and soil conservation practices in these scenarios will impact biodiversity and ecosystem services.

For this, Dr Yang Chen (PGM), in collaboration with Dr Schwarz and Dr Willemen (NRS), will develop spatially explicit agent-based models on the social-ecological system for viticulture. These models describe winegrowers as agents who take farming decisions and thereby influence the vineyard and surrounding landscape. The status and changes of the vineyards and landscape, in turn, are expected to influence winegrowers' decision-making.  Dr Chen will develop the models with stakeholders for viticultural regions located in Spain, France, Germany, Austria and Romania. The ITC researchers agree, “This is a dream project for anyone who cares about nature, rural livelihoods…and wine”.

In October, six Dutch projects received funding for their research focusing on climate scenarios for biodiversity and ecosystem services: https://www.nwo.nl/en/news-and-events/news/2018/10/six-awards-in-european-call-biodivscen.html