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Agri-environmental schemes for biodiversity and environmental protection: How we are not yet “hitting the right keys”

Emmanouil Tyllianakis and Julia Martin-Ortega

Land Use Policy, 2021, vol. 109, issue C

Abstract: Compensating land managers for the provision of public goods is currently one of the European Union’s flagship policies, and one that that resonates across the globe more generally in the effort to meet Sustainable Development Goals. Despite having been central to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for several decades now, Agri-Environment Schemes (AES) seem to only have had limited success in preserving biodiversity and providing environmental benefits due, among other, to farmer-related factors. This paper systematically reviews and quantifies, for the first time, the body of evidence that explores these factors with respect to their influence on land managers’ willingness to accept (WTA) compensation for the delivery of biodiversity and environmental features’ protection. Our analysis shows a complex and nuanced picture. Farmers appear generally willing to enrol in AES, with average payment per hectare being around 327 Euros. However, the current evidence base provides few clues on how best that willingness is matched by contract design formats and features more generally. Providing support to farmers and exploring new ways of monitoring compliance emerge as issues worth considering as means of determining compensation in AES. Further, the broader evidence base seems to suggest that wealthier land managers stand to gain more than less wealthy in enroling in AES. However, this alone seems, in the overall, like a quite modest contribution from the body of evidence to inform policy design more broadly. It indeed does seem that we (academia and/or policy) are not yet hitting the right key on how to best match farmers preferences for enroling in AES for the delivery of biodiversity/environmental features A significant leap forward would not simply require an increased quantity of primary studies, but a deeper reflexion on how the complexity of farmers’ preferences is best captured in the design of policy instruments that have to both share common features while being adaptable to context dependent characteristics at the landscape level. This is more pressing than ever face to the unprecedented challenges of Brexit and the COVID19-induced economic recession, which is going to put every cent of public funding under the hardest of scrutinies in the years to come.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Land managers; Subsidies; Random effects; Monitoring of results; Contract support (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2021.105620

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