Scale and self-governance in agri-environment schemes: experiences with two alternative approaches in the Netherlands

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Agri-environment schemes in the Netherlands have been criticized for their lack of effectiveness. Explanations were sought in the limited size of the individual farm and in the shallowness of the measures. We distinguish three scale problems: in the spatial dimension (from farm element to landscape), in the management dimension (from add-on measure to farming system) and in the governance dimension (from little to much space for self-governance by farmers). These scale concepts are used to translate insights from ecology and agro-economy to governance approaches. We analyse case studies of two new approaches: an area approach with group contracts and spatial coordination of agri-environmental measures, and a farming system with substantial adaptations of the farming concept. Both approaches have elements of increased self-governance and could offer inspiration for schemes elsewhere. We propose that appropriate space for self-governance is necessary when choosing another scale approach for making agri-environment schemes more effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1490-1508
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015



  • social-ecological systems
  • biodiversity conservation
  • agricultural landscapes
  • habitat fragmentation
  • mosaic management
  • limosa-limosa
  • payments
  • survival
  • policy
  • participation

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