Partnering for nature conservation NGO-farmer collaboration for meadow bird protection in the Netherlands

Hens Runhaar*, N.B.P. Polman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


In order to reverse the trend of continuous decline in species diversity and abundance in agricultural landscapes, various governance arrangements have been implemented that promote, organise and finance nature conservation
by farmers. The scientific literature predominantly focuses on agri-environment schemes (AES), i.e. publicly funded financial compensation schemes for farmers who implement prescribed conservation measures. Less attention has been paid to governance arrangements initiated by actors outside the public domain. This
paper analyses a unique partnership between a nature conservation NGO – BirdLife Netherlands (BLN) – and a network of about 130 dairy and cattle farmers, aimed at meadow bird protection in the Netherlands. Meadow birds breed in large numbers in the Netherlands, mainly on farmland, but their numbers have been declining as a consequence of agricultural intensification, urbanisation and predation, amongst other things. Established in 2010, the partnership is gradually evolving from bilateral cooperation between BLN and individual farmers into a network. Based on desk research, interviews and five focus group sessions with almost 40 representatives of the partnership, we conclude that the main (perceived) achievements include: a large contribution to awareness of
and recognition for the important role and efforts of farmers in meadow bird protection among citizens, politicians, policy-makers and companies in agri-food chains; a modest contribution to improving conservation efforts by participating farmers; and a modest contribution to their knowledge about conservation of meadow birds. The main success factors are the alignment of interests and complementarity of the partners and motivation derived from meeting peers. The partnership clearly complements AES in terms of its functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Agricultural sustainability
  • Agriculture
  • Agrobiodiversity
  • Dairy farming
  • Governance
  • Partnerships


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