Drivers of farmers' willingness to adopt extensive farming practices in a globally important bird area.

Published online
26 Jun 2019
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Czajkowski, M. & Zagórska, K. & Letki, N. & Tryjanowski, P. & Wąs, A.
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Agri-environmental schemes have become an integral tool of land use management policies in ecologically valuable river valleys, that are commonly recognized as very important bird habitats. When high adoption of extensive agricultural practices is not only a political goal, but also a necessary condition for conservation of vulnerable ecosystems, understanding of farmers' preferences is utterly important. Therefore, we use the case of Biebrza Marshes - a wetland complex and one of the largest wildlife refuges in Europe, which is located in northeastern Poland - and employ stated preference methods to investigate farmers' preferences for adopting several agricultural practices, such as precision fertilization, crop diversification, catch crops, peatland protection, extensive use of meadows, and the reduction of livestock stocking density. Farmers' willingness to participate in selected practices is explained using farms' and farmers' characteristics, subjectively and objectively measured farmers' environmental knowledge, as well as by experimentally controlled information treatments about environmental benefits of agri-environmental contracts. The results provide new insights into the sources of farmers' preference heterogeneity and show how different motivations relate to participation in agri-environmental schemes. Based on the results and consultations with local stakeholders, we make recommendations for a more efficient design and targeting of land use management instruments, including future agri-environmental schemes.

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