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Keywords:

  • New world mediterranean;
  • vineyard;
  • footprint;
  • winelands;
  • working landscapes;
  • best practices;
  • viticulture

Abstract

With some of the highest biodiversity on the planet, the Mediterranean Biome is experiencing a conservation crisis driven by high human population density, development, and habitat fragmentation. While protected areas safeguard some critical habitat, economic realities require conservation efforts in human-dominated landscapes to maintain biodiversity in practice. As an essential component of food security for a growing human population, agricultural landscapes must play a key role in such efforts because they occupy large areas of land, are adjacent to critical habitat, and both depend on and provide ecosystem services. Winegrapes are a high-value specialty crop that can both benefit from and contribute to conservation, as producers and consumers increasingly value environmental stewardship. At the same time, potential expansion of cultivated areas, either to meet future wine demand or in response to climate change, means that decreasing the environmental impact of viticulture is critical for biodiversity conservation. We propose that vinecology—the integration of ecological and viticultural practices—can produce win-win solutions for wine production and nature conservation, where the goal is a diverse landscape that yields sustainable economic benefits, species and habitat protection, and long-term provision of a full range of ecosystem services.