Farmers’ behavioural determinants of on-farm biodiversity management in Europe: a systematic review

Agriculture and Human Values 41 (2):831-861 (2024)
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Abstract

Agricultural intensification and landscape homogenisation are major drivers of biodiversity loss in European agricultural landscapes. Improvements require changes in farming practices, but empirical evidence on farmers’ motivations underlying their on-farm biodiversity management remains fragmented. To date, there is no aggregated overview of behavioural determinants that influence European farmers’ decisions to implement biodiversity-friendly farming practices. This study aims to fill this knowledge gap by conducting a systematic literature review of 150 empirical studies published between 2000 and 2022. We identified 108 potential determinants of farmers’ behaviour, which were integrated into a multilevel framework. The results show that the farmers’ decisions are complex and often non-directional processes, shaped by numerous external (at a society, landscape, community, and farm level) and internal factors. These factors are embedded in regional and cultural contexts. However, the analysis of study sites indicates that the spatial coverage of scientific evidence on biodiversity-friendly farming measures is uneven across Europe. Given the diversity of local and socio-cultural conditions, there is a need for public policies, including the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, to address more specifically determinants encouraging biodiversity-friendly farm management. This entails reflecting culture-specific perspectives and incorporating experiential knowledge into multilevel policy design processes, as well as offering regionally adapted advice on measure implementation and biodiversity impacts.

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