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Agricultural landscapes as multi-scale public good and the role of the Common Agricultural Policy

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During the last 50 years, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has impacted the evolution of European agricultural landscapes by driving changes in land use and farming practices. We propose a typology characterising the scales relevant for agricultural landscapes management and argue that action is required on three scales: (1) a landscape oriented management at the farm level; (2) the coordination of land managers’ actions at the landscape level; and (3) the conservation of the diversity of agricultural landscapes in the EU. We provide evidence that until now the CAP has mainly focused on the first scale. We also illustrate how agricultural policy could encourage coordinated actions at the landscape- and EU-scales. In particular, we propose policy instruments to coordinate actions of individual land owners (e.g. collective bonus in agro-environmental contracts or support to environmental cooperatives (scale 2)). We also analyse how the recognition and transposition of the European Landscape Convention could promote trans-frontier landscape cooperation in order, not only to conserve high-quality rural landscapes, but also to ensure the conservation of the diversity of EU landscapes (scale 3). This paper provides a knowledge base to support an integrated CAP design in the direction of improved landscape management, as an important component of the EU project towards more sustainable agriculture.
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Keywords: Common Agricultural Policy; European Landscape Convention; agriculture; collective action; landscapes; rural development

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: European Commission, Joint Research Centre, IPTS, Seville, Spain 2: European Commission, Joint Research Centre, IES, Ispra, Italy 3: Institute of Socio-Economics, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg, Germany

Publication date: December 2, 2015

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