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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Effects of a coordinated farmland bird conservation project on farmers' intentions to implement nature conservation practices e Evidence from the Swedish Volunteer & Farmer Alliance

Josefsson, Jonas; Lokhorst, Anne Marike; Part, Tomas; Berg, Ake; Eggers, Sonke


To increase the efficacy of agri-environmental schemes (AES), as well as farmers' environmental engagement, practitioners are increasingly turning to collective forms of agri-environmental manage- ment. As yet, empirical evidence from such approaches is relatively scarce. Here, we examined a farm- land bird conservation project coordinated by BirdLife Sweden, the Swedish Volunteer & Farmer Alliance (SVFA). The key features of the SVFA were farmland bird inventories from volunteering birdwatchers and on-farm visits to individual farmers from conservation advisors for guidance on AES as well as unsub- sidised practices. Using an ex-post application of the theory of planned behaviour across project par- ticipants and a randomly sampled control group of farmers we assessed how SVFA affected behavioural intentions relating to AES and unsubsidised conservation, and how the behaviour was affected by atti- tudes, perceived social norms and perceived behavioural control. We also included a measure of self- identity as a conservationist to assess its importance for behavioural intentions, and if SVFA stimu- lated this self-identity. SVFA farmers reported greater commitment to implementing AES and unsubsi- dised conservation, as compared to the control group. However, greater commitment was associated with more positive attitudes for unsubsidised conservation only and not for AES, underlining the inability of existing AES to prompt intrinsic motivation. There were also differences between farmers within SVFA, where farmers applying to the project were motivated by social influences, while farmers recruited by project managers were motivated by their personal beliefs regarding nature conservation. Finally, farmers' self-perceived ability to perform practices (i.e. perceived behavioural control) was important for their commitment to implementing AES as well as unsubsidised practices. Therefore, increasing farmers' awareness regarding the availability and, not least, practicability of available con- servation options may be the key to successful biodiversity conservation in agricultural systems.


Common agricultural policy; Sustainable farming; Nature-friendly farming; Landscape-scale conservation; Evidence-based conservation; Advisory visits

Published in

Journal of Environmental Management
2017, volume: 187, pages: 8-15

Authors' information

Josefsson, Jonas
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Lokhorst, Anne Marike
Wageningen University & Research Centre (Wageningen UR)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Berg, Åke
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Biodiversity Centre
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science
Social Psychology
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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