Implementing green infrastructure policy in agricultural landscapes—scenarios for Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Abstract

Green infrastructure (GI) has been identified as helping to protect Europe’s natural capital by fostering environmental protection outside nature reserves and enabling better overall adaptation to changing conditions. The aim of Europe’s green infrastructure strategy is to integrate GI implementation into existing policies. In intensively farmed agricultural areas, this mainly means the greening measures of the Common Agricultural Policy, which are mandatory for farmers wishing to receive full direct payments. We explore how GI implementation might develop under different future scenarios. We use a participatory scenario development approach to explore the benefits and limitations perceived by local actors in the agricultural regions of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Limiting factors include ecosystem disservices, economic constraints relating to income, labour costs, investments and land tenure, and social considerations including the farmers’ self-image as primarily food producers and local people’s opinions regarding good farming practices. The limiting factors also include a lack of knowledge about the ecological usefulness of measures, and failings in the design of the measures regarding practicability, flexibility and reliability. Benefits are seen in various ecosystem services, job creation and in fulfilling society’s demands for environmental protection. We conclude by stating that GI implementation in agricultural landscapes requires reliable and flexible measures that fit farming practices and are well communicated, and that landscape level coordination and cooperation could enhance their effectiveness.

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Funding

This research was funded by the ERA-Net BiodivERsA, with the national funders BMBF, part of the 2011–2012 BiodivERsA call for research proposals.

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Correspondence to Jenny Schmidt.

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Editor:Nicolas Dendoncker.

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Schmidt, J., Hauck, J. Implementing green infrastructure policy in agricultural landscapes—scenarios for Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Reg Environ Change 18, 899–911 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-017-1241-2

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Keywords

  • Participatory scenario development
  • Green infrastructure strategy
  • Common Agricultural Policy
  • Ecological focus areas
  • Ecosystem services
  • Farmers’ perceptions