Environmental co-operatives as a new mode of rural governance

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The modernization paradigm, which for many decades dominated agricultural practices, policies and science, is gradually being replaced by a rural development paradigm. The emerging rural development paradigm calls, amongst other things, for a new approach to policy-making, steering and control, in other words, for a new approach to rural governance. The need for new forms of rural governance is embedded in current political and scientific debates on shifts in multi-level governance that occur in a variety of socio-economic domains. Within the domain of agriculture and rural development, self-organization and self-regulation emerge as a new mode of rural governance. Environmental co-operatives are a promising expression of this, They are characterized by new institutional relations between state agencies and the agricultural community, new social networks of trust at local level and the re-embedding of farming in its local social and ecological context. In the Frisian Woodlands, the environmental co-operatives VEL and VANLA succeeded in building new local social networks of trust and in re-integrating dairy farming, nature conservation and landscape management. However, further development towards self-regulation is hampered by a lack of institutional support, particularly from national government authorities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-25
JournalNetherlands Journal of Agricultural Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • cooperative activities
  • rural development
  • agricultural development
  • cooperation
  • agricultural policy
  • environmental protection
  • landscape conservation
  • netherlands
  • agricultural cooperatives
  • agri-environment schemes
  • friese wouden
  • policies


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