Landscape Governance as Policy integration ‘from below’: a case of displaced and contained political conflict in the Netherlands

I.M. Buizer*, B. Arts, J. Westerink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Agri-environmental schemes (AES) have been a predominant manifestation of environmental policy Integration in the EU. However, rather than strictly following formal AES policy, farmers across Europe have taken various other initiatives to integrate environmental and agricultural practices. Mostly, these integrative initiatives were based on dynamic actor networks at various levels, responding to local problems and challenges. Compared with situations where, from the top down, one (mostly weaker) policy domain is integrated into another, the kind of integration taking place in these examples may be called more ‘fundamental’. Here, integration is already embedded in the practical outcomes envisioned in specific places. The parts of the outcome require each other. However, this fundamental form of integration may render problems at other levels and sectors of governance. In this paper we present a case study of an initiative called Farming for Nature. The initiative aimed to integrate farming and nature more thoroughly than EU and national policies and incorporated some important other characteristics of the area, such as its water dynamics and relationships with the urban environment. However, it also involved some key differences from mainstream policy; and although it resonated with EU support for participative governance, these differences rendered a lengthy process towards implementation lasting more than half a decade. We use the concept of ‘landscape governance’—operationalized as the interplay of discourses, institutional practices, and natural–spatial conditions—to understand the politics of scale involved when mainstream government policies and local integrative initiatives meet. Particular attention is paid to how the local ideas toned down some of their integrative ingredients in order to comply with mainstream sectoral policy discourse. We find that the type of landscape governance implemented shaped the initiatives into a form that contributed to their implementation, but simultaneously displaced and contained political conflict in a way that prevented public debate
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-462
JournalEnvironment and Planning C. Government and Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • agrienvironmental policy
  • discourse
  • environmental policy integration
  • institutional practices
  • landscape governance


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