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An assessment of the landscape-scale dimensions of land based environmental management schemes offered to farmers in England

Franks, Jeremy R.
Land use policy 2019 v.83 pp. 147-159
agri-environmental policy, ecosystem services, environmental management, farmers, farms, land management, England
This study reviews the evolution of environmental land management and agri-environment schemes (AES) offered to farmers in England between 1979 and 2015 from the perspective of their potential to deliver landscape-scale, i.e. cross farm boundary, environmental benefits. The review uses population conservation theory, which underpinned the recommendations in the Lawton report (Lawton et al., 2010), to identify eight characteristics of these schemes with this potential. These characteristics form a framework which is used to assess the potential landscape-scale impacts of Countryside Stewardship, the AES recently introduced in England. The Mid Tier of Countryside Stewardship provides financial assistance to facilitators to help farmers organise and manage Farmer Groups. A Farmer Group must consist of four or more neighbouring farmers, who between them farm over 2,000 ha. Each member of a Farmer Group is required to submit an individual application, but each application must demonstrate that it “go[es] beyond [the environmental benefits that] could be delivered by individual holdings acting in isolation”. After the 2017 round, 98 Farmer Groups had been funded, involving 1915 farmer members, covering 451,064 ha. Primarily because of this innovation, Countryside Stewardship is considered to be the most landscape-scale orientated AES offered to farmers in England. A consideration of the evolution towards landscape-scale attributes in environmental land management schemes leads into a discussion of how future changes to four key AES characteristics – identified in the review – may influence how the landscape-scale dimension develops in the next generation of AES.