The link between context and scheme design in agri-environmental schemes: the successful case of the Netherlands

Papers - 31/05/2023

In response to the urgent matters related to intensive farming, a successful example of agri-environmental collective scheme in the Netherlands uses a mechanism-based approach to investigate the potential of eco-system services. Results show that success is strongly linked to social learning and trust-building mechanisms.

The link between context and scheme design in agri-environmental schemes: the successful case of the Netherlands

Intensification of farming in the Netherlands has caused increasing pressure on environmental quality. Horticulture and agriculture are now responsible for 13% of GHG emissions and the bird
population has fallen by 70% in farmlands. The Dutch Rural Development Programme established
a collective practice-based agri-environmental scheme that was applied in four pilot regions in
order to reverse the decline in biodiversity in farming areas, introduce flexibility in conservation activities, and generally reduce bureaucracy.

This paper “Designing successful agri-environmental schemes: a mechanistic analysis of a
collective scheme for eco-system services in the Netherlands” by G.Bazzan, J. Candel and C.
Daujberg addresses the urgent and increasing issues of pollution, intensive farming and declining
biodiversity in order to acknowledge the existing relationship with agri-environmental measures
and the potential that they pose for climate mitigation. Agri-environmental pacts are contracts
that provide financial compensation for engaging farmers in implementing measures of good
farming practices.

The article aims to uncover the processes of actions and interactions within agri-environmental
governance arrangements, by using as a focus a successful collective AES promoted in the
Netherlands: the Noardlike Fryske Walden (NFW) agrarian collective in the northern province of

The NFW example is considered successful because it achieved nature conservation, reduced
nitrogen pollution and improved energy production. All this was possible thanks to committed
farmer members who overcame the barriers to motivation, complexity and type of land. And they
eventually created commitment among stakeholders, and set the basis for replicability.

Read the paper to find out more about the mechanistic approach that the authors used to analyse the impact and outcomes of agri-environmental governance arrangements.