Human Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 951–963 | Cite as

Identifying the Factors That Influence Farmer Participation in Environmental Management Practices in Switzerland

  • Eleni KaraliEmail author
  • Beat Brunner
  • Ruth Doherty
  • Anna Hersperger
  • Mark Rounsevell


This paper identifies the factors that either constrain or facilitate farmer decisions to participate in environmental management practices in Switzerland. Semi-structured interviews were used to explore participation in agro-environmental schemes (AES) and the application of organic farming (OF) in the north of Switzerland. Seventeen factors were found to influence farmer decisions to participate in environmental management practices, demonstrating that their decisions were not solely driven by economic incentives. Social and political factors, household and individual profile characteristics as well as concern for the natural environment were all shown to affect the way in which farmers made decisions, but financial considerations remained important, suggesting that environmental participation resulted mainly from the need to adapt to recent agricultural policy reforms with associated subsidies. Although policy was shown to encourage environmentally-friendly farm management and the achievement of ecological benefits, there is no evidence to suggest that this reflects a long-term shift in ‘green’ farmer attitudes rather than short-term opportunism.


Farmers Decision-making Agro-environmental schemes Organic farming In-depth interviews Switzerland 



The research presented in this paper was conducted under the EU-FP6 Ecochange project GOCE-036866. Eleni Karali was funded also by the Torrance Bequest, The University of Edinburgh. The authors would like to thank all the farmers in the study area who agreed to participate in the survey and the anonymous reviewers whose constructive comments improved this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eleni Karali
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Beat Brunner
    • 3
  • Ruth Doherty
    • 1
  • Anna Hersperger
    • 4
  • Mark Rounsevell
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of EdinburghEdinburghUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC)BolognaItaly
  3. 3.Landert & Partner, Social Research Evaluation and ConceptsZürichSwitzerland
  4. 4.WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland

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