The ecological effectiveness of agri-environment schemes in different agricultural landscapes in The Netherlands

D. Kleijn, F. Berendse, R. Smit, N. Gilissen, J. Smit, B. Brak, R.A. Groeneveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

167 Citations (Scopus)


Agri-environment schemes are an instrument used by western European countries to counteract the negative effects of contemporary agriculture on biodiversity, but not much is known about their effectiveness. We investigated the ecological effects of Dutch agri-environment schemes aimed at promoting botanical diversity or meadow birds, and we tested whether the effectiveness of the schemes depends on landscape type or structure. In three different types of landscape, we surveyed plants, birds, bees, and hover flies on 78 paired fields that either had agri-environment schemes or were managed conventionally, and we collected data on a range of different environmental variables. Neither plant species richness nor abundance of meadow birds was higher on fields with agri-environment schemes. Landscape type had a significant effect on both species groups, but the effects of the schemes were independent of landscape type. Neither the diversity of plants nor the abundance of birds was related to any of the environmental variables. Agri-environment schemes designed to promote plant species richness or bird abundance did have positive side-effects because they enhanced the species richness of bees and hover flies, irrespective of the type of landscape. Furthermore, landscape type, groundwater level (hover flies), and area of wooded edges (bees) significantly affected both species groups. The failure of the schemes to promote the target species may be related to the high intensity of land use in The Netherlands. Simple conservation measures taken by farmers may not be sufficient to counteract the impact of factors that are often controlled at the landscape level (e.g., hydrology). Similar studies in other countries are needed to place the results of our study into a European context. Keywords: bees; biodiversity conservation; farmland; hover flies; meadow birds; policy evaluation; vegetation; aves de praderaabejas; conservació; n de biodiversidad; evaluació; n de polí; ticas; moscas; tierra de cultivo; vegetació; n
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-786
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • diversity
  • conservation
  • consequences
  • biodiversity
  • restoration
  • countryside
  • populations
  • intensity
  • farmland
  • europe


Dive into the research topics of 'The ecological effectiveness of agri-environment schemes in different agricultural landscapes in The Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this