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Report, 2020

The effectiveness of policies promoting sustainable permanent grasslands across five European countries (representing five biogeographic regions): mapping, understanding, and key stakeholder perceptions

Hunter, Erik; Johansson, Carl; Nybom, Jozefine; Gallardo Cobos, Rosa; Sánchez Zamora, Pedro; Caño Vergara , Belén; Quatrini , Simone; Lieberherr, Eva; Newell Price, Paul; Elliott, John; Miškolci, Simona; Tindale, Sophie; Frewer, Lynn


The purpose of this report is to identify, map, and evaluate the most relevant European policies seen to influence permanent grassland (PG) management. To accomplish this, an interdisciplinary, crossnational team from the UK, Switzerland, Spain, Czech Republic, and Sweden reviewed over 50 in-depth policy frameworks. With direction from expert stakeholders and a review of the policy landscape, we identified the most relevant policy instruments influencing PGs across five different biogeographic regions in Europe (Alpine, Atlantic, Boreal, Continental, and Mediterranean).

The mapping of each country’s policy mix was guided inter-alia by a ‘cascade framework’ to illustrate the entry points, intermediary actors, mechanisms and pathways through which policies deliver their intended effects on PGs. This entailed an in-depth analysis of publicly available government sources documenting the aims, objectives, targets, monitoring systems, outputs and outcomes of each policy instrument. In total, 24 policies were mapped using 50 different criteria, with 15 of the policies unique to the case study countries. This resulted in an extensive excel database of over 3400 unique cells containing rich qualitative data.

The excel data were coded in a consistent manner across the country teams so that they could be compared, synthesized, and used to identify patterns in the policy mix and logic of intervention. We show, for instance, that across Europe, the dominant policy logic uses regulations and incentives to influence farmer adoption of desired landscape compositions. This directly influences, but does not guarantee, the range of ecosystem services (ES) that are possible from the landscape. At the same time, we discovered a lack of policies targeting consumer demand for PG ecosystem services and only a few designed to drive sustainable PG management by directly promoting the value of PGs with beneficiaries.

To complement the policy mapping, stakeholders’ assessed the perceived effectiveness of the policy mix in each country. This evaluation included over 50 interviews with key stakeholders across Europe representing government, academia, farmers, and special interests, and covered perceptions of democracy, legitimacy, relevance, efficiency and impact in relation to the effectiveness of policies relevant to the management of PG. Our findings reveal generally positive perceptions of grassland policy effectiveness across Europe, with special interest groups being the least positive and governments the most. The in-depth country case studies reveal striking similarities, as well as differences between countries and stakeholder groups, which are illustrative of the problems, challenges, and barriers confronting policy effectiveness.

We conclude this report by offering insights and policy implications. In particular, we suggest that the following four points are taken into consideration to improve the PG policy landscape: 1) Reduce complexity and administrative burden to make policies more understandable and accessible. 2) Require stakeholder involvement when developing strategic plans and assessing policy. 3) Encourage consideration of trade-offs between PG management and ES delivery, by designing policies to explicitly target the interaction between landscape structures and ES (or target them in parallel). 4) Encourage a balance of policy logic, by moving away from targeting farmers with regulation or subsidies to manage the landscape towards targeting consumer demand for ES (through information) and the value of ES (such as direct payments for regulating and cultural services).

Published in

Publisher: SUPER-G

Authors' information

Gallardo Cobos, Rosa
University of Cordoba
Sánchez Zamora, Pedro
University of Cordoba
Caño Vergara , Belén
University of Cordoba
Quatrini , Simone
Eidgenoss Tech Hsch Zurich
Lieberherr, Eva
Eidgenoss Tech Hsch Zurich
Newell Price, Paul
RSK ADAS Limited
Elliott, John
RSK ADAS Limited
Miškolci, Simona
Mendel University in Brno
Tindale, Sophie
Newcastle University - UK
Frewer, Lynn
Newcastle University - UK

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Environmental Management
Landscape Architecture

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