Research Institute for Organic Agriculture, Frick

Motivations for the implementation of ecological compensation areas

Swiss agricultural policy is guided by the goal of improving the ecological services provided by farms through direct payments for ecological compensation areas (ECAs), but evaluation programs have shown that financial incentives alone do not guarantee the implementation of ECAs. We investigated, by means of structured interviews with conventional, integrated production, and organic farmers, which role economic, ecological and social motivations play in the decisions by Swiss lowland farmers to implement ECAs. The results show that ECAs are primarily implemented if they are perceived by farmers to be conservation relevant and if they are easily integrated into the farm’s workflow. Financial aspects were found to play a more important role than ecological aspects for conventional farmers, while organic and integrated production farmers were found to be more ecologically oriented with organic farmers showing the highest ecological motivation. However, only a weak correlation between motivation and the quantity and quality of ECAs was found. To efficiently increase ECAs, more emphasis should be placed on communicating the benefits of specific measures and on developing instruments that make the farmers’ accomplishments apparent and increase their appreciation by farmers and consumers.

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