Knowledge Platform


Farmers represent the main implementing actors of landscape management practices. As many economic, financial incentive-based measures, the agri-environmental schemes (AES) are characterized by voluntariness. Thus, the uptake of a policy depends on the degree of acceptance by farmers. This in turn is influenced by advantageous and disadvantageous factors related to the design and the implementation of the policy, such as flexibility, innovation, higher intrinsic motivation and improved continuous adaptation possibilities as well as transaction costs, control efforts and risk related to the adoption of the policy by farmers. Already formal eligibility criteria for participation in policy schemes, such as private ownership or minimum farm size, result in farm type differences in policy participation.

The differentiation of farming types and farming styles are particularly helpful in that sense, as they are attached to different attitudes, aspirations and value settings as well as different economic preconditions either for landscape policy implementation or for the socio-economic valorisation of landscape. Accordingly, there is a large spectrum of farms and farmers, which are characterised by different degree of willingness and capacity to carry out certain activities, whether and how they adopt certain policy schemes, e.g. agri-environmental schemes or initiate certain activities of valorisation, such as diversification. These include family and marginal farms and agri-businesses, traditional, part-time or lifestyle farmers as well as conservative, adaptive or innovative farmers. For example traditional farmers seem to follow a rather conservative strategy avoiding engagement in environmentally oriented practices, whereas innovative and adaptive farmers tend to be more active in extensive farming and landscape management practices.

Especially farmers' environmental attitudes, variations in commitment with the policy objectives, have been found most relevant for participation in AES schemes. Also characteristics, such as age, education, length of residency, farming philosophy and the existence of remnant semi-natural habitats on farms represent important explanatory factors for farmers' attitudes. Similarly, farmership, land ownership, trust in government and expansion drive as main attitudinal factors for certain landscape management practices and valorisation. Additionally, economic characteristics of farm households and businesses, such as farm business structure, specialisation, land ownership, income dependency or succession situation influence the policy uptake.

Empirical Case Study Evidence

Policy Implementation

In the CLAIM case study regions, empirical evidence has been collected, which confirms frequent lines of argumentation that farm differences in terms of size, business model, assets and perception represent relevant factors for the implementation of agricultural policy, especially voluntary support schemes. Here observations include farm business-related implementation constraints, such as management, co-financing and available farm assets (BG) or differences in farm capabilities to either carry out the measure or to reach the desired objective (e.g. hyper-extensification instead of landscape management) (FR).

Frequently differences between small and large-scale farms have been addressed in the case study regions. On the one hand, the importance to address small farmers as carrier of traditional, landscape-adapted management practices is highlighted in several (mountainous, marginal) regions, such as the Austrian Alps, Corsican or the Balkan mountains. In the French and Bulgarian case, researchers demand a stronger policy targeting towards small farmers, as they are either disadvantaged compared to large-scale farmers or otherwise negative policy impacts are observed. The German CSA observations add to the complex of problems, by pointing out the increasing marginalisation of small farmers due to massive land acquisition ("land grabbing"). On the other hand, it is said, that the support of small-scale farmers improves the environmental and landscape objective, as it conserves small-scale and diverse agricultural landscapes (BG) and landscape structure (AT).

In the case studies attention is called to the role of knowledge and awareness rising. For instance, in the Polish case little knowledge was found among local population about landscape management measures, while farmers are well aware of their influence on the landscape and the necessity of protection, concluding a strong demand for awareness rising among the local community. These aspects can be seen related to the problem of conflicting interests of stakeholder in the region about landscape management, either between agriculture and nature conservation (BG, DE) or between agriculture and the local community (FR). Others (BG, TR) stress particularly the role of agricultural extension and consultancy services to improve implementation of landscape management measures.

Landscape Valorisation

The assessment of mechanism determining the influence of regional actors and stakeholder on the valorisation of landscape has been addressed from the perspectives of actor differences including consumer types and their preferences as well as the asymmetry of demand and supply of landscape services. Firstly, farm type differences, especially in terms of area sizes and assets, have been frequently identified as relevant aspect for the contribution to regional competitiveness (AT, BG, DE, ES, PL). Further the role of intermediary agents and broad-positioned bottom-up initiatives has been highlighted in the Austrian and the Spanish case study, either to key agents for knowledge transfer for regional strategy-making or to enhance the integration of different agents with their individual roles and strategies.

In the Austrian case the support of traditional small-scale agriculture was seen as a key to regional competitiveness, whereas stakeholders in the German case complained about the outflow of financial support for landscape management from the region due to the effect of large-scale agri-businesses. In contrast, the Polish example highlighted the role of larger agri-businesses in support landscape measures and conserving the cultural heritage of the agricultural landscape. Due to farm business and institutional constraints, such as bureaucracy, management, co-financing, access to loans, also in the Bulgarian example difficulties for small farmers were found in measure uptake, e.g. for diversification. But they also show that farms with specific specialisation (i.e. wine production) are capable to valorise landscape and natural amenities as added value to their products. Otherwise also disservices by landscape management have been found. In the case of Corsica, the extensive cattle ranging lead to an increased fire risk. In the Italian case study, farmers showed only little entrepreneurial capacity towards landscape valorisation as agricultural landscape is not considered as an asset.

Conclusions & Recommendations

The ad-hoc studies carried out in the nine different case study regions provided empirical evidence on the mechanisms of landscape policy implementation and landscape valorisation influenced by the farm type differences. However, due to the complexity of the cause-effect-relationships between landscape policy design, landscape management and ecosystem functioning to the socio-economic second-order effects, the results show a rather heterogeneous picture. Still, the relevance of these differences are confirmed and highlighting the requirement to take farm differences into consideration in policy design.

Further Reading

Huynh, T.H., Franke, C., Piorr, A., Lange, A., Zasada, I. (2014). Target groups of rural development policies: Development of a survey-based farm typology for analysing self-perception statements of farmers. Outlook on Agriculture 43(2): 75-83.

Jongeneel, R.A., Polman, N.B.P., Slangen, L.H.G. (2008). Why are Dutch farmers going multifunctional? Land Use Policy 25: 81-94.

Præstholm, S., Kristensen,S.P. (2007). Farmers as initiators and farms as attractors for non-agricultural economic activities in peri-urban areas in Denmark. Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography 107 (2): 13-27.

Primdahl, J., Kristensen,L. (2011). The farmer as a landscape manager: Management roles and change patterns in a Danish region. Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography 111 (2): 107-116.

van der Ploeg, J.D., Laurent, C., Blondeau, F., Bonnafous, P. (2009). Farm diversity, classification schemes and multifunctionality. Journal of Environmental Management 90: S124-S131.

Zasada,I., Berges,R., Hilgendorf,J., Piorr,A. (2013). Horsekeeping and the peri-urban development in the Berlin Metropolitan Region. Journal of Land Use Science 8: 199-214.