Farming out’ biodiversity: Implementing EU nature law through agri-environmental schemes

E.C. Alblas*, J.A.W. van Zeben

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


European Union (EU) nature conservation law mandates the protection of more than 2000 species and habitats. Many of these species and their habitats rely on agricultural land, which means that Member State implementation of EU nature law necessarily interacts with national agricultural policies. The integration of EU biodiversity goals into sector-level and farm-level agricultural policies is therefore commonplace and, seemingly, in line with the discretion awarded to Member States. However, each stage of this multi-level implementation process brings the opportunity for goal dilution such that this may ultimately undermine the ambitions of the EU's nature conservation laws.
This article adds to existing literature on multi-level implementation through an empirical case study of the Dutch implementation of binding EU nature law through an agri-environmental scheme. In the Dutch model, implementation takes place through national and provincial governmental agri-environmental policies as well as implementing actions of (private) agricultural collectives. Our data confirms that that the degree of discretion of each actor within a multi-level implementation setting strongly affects overall goal dilution and goal achievement. By incorporating appropriate controls and monitoring at each governance level, benefits of multi-level implementation can be achieved while dilution and divergence are minimized.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100180
JournalEarth System Governance
Early online date29 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


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