Knowledge Platform

General Information

The study area is located in the Eastern part of the Netherlands in the municipality of Winterswijk (Figure 1). Winterswijk is part of the province of Gelderland and within Gelderland it is part of the Achterhoek region. The case study area is recognized as a distinctive rural landscape in the Netherlands and is protected under Dutch law (Nationaal Landschap). Agriculture is the dominant land use in the area. The eastern section of Winterswijk, is characterized by a greater share of forests and hedgerows, is distinctive from the western section that is more open and flat.

Past socio-economic processes and poor soil conditions have largely shaped agricultural activities in Winterswijk, with farmers constrained to small and dispersed agricultural plots. The resulting land use pattern is characteristically scattered, with small agricultural plots enclosed by hedgerows (Coulisse landscape). The town of Winterswijk is located in the center of the municipality and has 23650 inhabitants. The rest of the population (19%) is dispersed evenly around the town living on rural estates. Although well connected by train and fairly well connected by highway the region is considered to be badly accessible by Dutch standards.

a land use map a) and a number of photo’s (b, c and d) that are representative for the agricultural landscape in the case study area.
Figure 1. a land use map a) and a number of photo’s (b, c and d) that are representative for the agricultural landscape in the case study area.

Landscape Policy

While all government levels, central, provincial and municipal, play a role in spatial planning process, the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) with the Ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (EAI) are the main institutes responsible for rural policy in the Netherlands. National spatial and mobility policy and housing plans are made by the VROM. The EAI coordinates and develops important policy documents for rural areas including the rural development program. The rural development program translates EU Rural Development Regulation to Dutch national policy, indicating how and by what means they intend to achieve the objectives of rural development.

In Winterswijk national landscape, agri-environment measures that are part of the common agricultural policy play an important role in landscape management. Many dairy farmers participate in compensation schemes for the maintenance of valuable landscape elements and the small-scale landscape. Moreover, since 2011 the Winterswijk landscape is a pilot project to test future CAP agri-environmental policy: agri-environment schemes are organized by farmers in the landscape collectively to ensure better spatial coordination of measures, which could benefit the flows and values of ecosystem services in the landscape.

Case study picture
© Flickr

Landscape Management

The agricultural areas in National Landscape Winterswijk, management practices are influenced by subsidy schemes in the common agricultural policy. Cross-compliance regulations also influence the agricultural land use in the area. About 30% of the holdings in the national landscape area have participated in the farmer-collective pilot project which was in place in the period 2011-2013. Through this project agri-environment measures were put in place to subsidize the maintenance of hedgerows and tree lines. Also, specific agricultural management practices that enhance biodiversity and the visual quality of the agricultural landscapes, such as sustainable field margins or specific crops, are subsidized in the pilot project.

In addition, several areas such as the as the Korenburgerveen reserve and the riparian vegetation of the numerous brooks in Winterswijk are marked as Natura 2000 and are therefore under nature conservation schemes.

Case study picture
Landscape © Boris van Zanten

Landscape Structure and Elements

Past landscape management practices have largely shaped the so called Coulisse landscape in Winterswijk, with farmers constrained to small and dispersed agricultural plots. As a result the region has remained forested by Dutch standards, with hedgerows enclosing small agricultural fields. Winterswijk municipality is currently a multifunctional landscape with agriculture, nature, recreation and rural living prominent functions. Within the case study area, different agricultural practices have resulted in differences in spatial landscape structures and preservation levels of landscape elements. The most profitable agriculture is localised in the western part of Winterswijk, which generally has larger plots, a more open landscape and less preserved landscape elements. The eastern part of the municipality is characterized by small plots and more historic landscape elements. However, there are some intensive businesses in the eastern section as well.

Throughout the municipality, the agricultural system is oriented towards the production of dairy products with mostly grazing (grasslands) and corn fodder crops grown. Poor production capacities in the eastern section of the municipality, and restriction on operation expansion have resulted in some farm cessation. Rural residential estates are newly increasing. Figure 2 shows the spatial distribution of three landscape characteristics in the area.

Spatial distribution of agricultural land use diversity, linear and point elements in the agricultural area of Winterswijk National Landscape.
Figure 2. Spatial distribution of agricultural land use diversity, linear and point elements in the agricultural area of Winterswijk National Landscape.

Landscape Functions and Services

The agricultural landscape in Winterswijk provides society with several landscape services. Farmers benefit from the delivery of provisioning services, which mainly consist of dairy products. Cultural services such as recreation, cultural heritage and aesthetic quality also contribute to human well-being the area. In addition, Winterswijk has a well-developed landscape related tourism industry with several bed and breakfasts and campsites. In addition, the number of hobby farmers and is steadily increasing. Lastly, the landscape also provides regulation services such as water regulation and carbon sequestration.

Socio-Economic Benefits

The coulisse landscape in the Winterswijk area provides socio-economic benefits in several ways. The landscape is likely to contribute to socio-economic benefits and regional competitiveness in four ways. (1) Firstly, regional tourism industries have developed themselves partly as a result of the provisioning of cultural landscape services in the area. Tourism industries contribute to the regional economy by creating employment and generating profit for regional investors. (2) Secondly, the farming sector benefits from the sale of provisioning services and the regulating or supporting services that enable the agricultural process. This yields socio-economic benefits and contributes to regional competitiveness through revenues and employment. In the Winterswijk area, provisioning services are mostly dairy products and maize. (3) Thirdly, regulating services that generate local and regional benefits also contribute to regional competitiveness. For instance, flood protection and water quality (for recreational and drinking water purposes). (4) The fourth way in which landscape delivers socio-economic benefits and drives regional competitiveness is directly through cultural landscape services. Cultural and aesthetic services attract tourists, recreation and investments in rural living by for example by hobby-farmers or retirees who move to the countryside.

References & Further Reading

Van Berkel, D.B., Verburg, P.H. (2012). Combining exploratory scenarios and participatory backcasting: using an agent-based model in participatory policy design for a multi-functional landscape. Landscape Ecology 27(5): 641-658.

Van Berkel, D.B., Verburg, P.H. (2014). Spatial quantification and valuation of cultural ecosystem services in an agricultural landscape. Ecological Indicators 37: 163-174.

Van Zanten, B.T., Verburg, P.H., Espinosa, M., Gomez-y-Paloma, S., Galimberti, G., Kantelhardt, J., Martin Kapfer, M., Lefebvre, M., Manrique, R., Piorr, A., Raggi, M., Schaller, L., Targetti, S., Zasada, I., Viaggi, D. (2014). European agricultural landscapes, common agricultural policy and ecosystem services: a review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 34(2): 309-325.

Responsible partner/person

Boris van Zanten, Peter Verburg
Instituut voor Milieuvraagstukken (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam