Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The farmer as a landscape steward: Comparing local understandings of landscape stewardship, landscape values, and land management actions


We develop a landscape stewardship classification which distinguishes between farmers’ understanding of landscape stewardship, their landscape values, and land management actions. Forty semi-structured interviews were conducted with small-holder (<5 acres), medium-holders (5–100 acres), and large-holders (>100 acres) in South-West Devon, UK. Thematic analysis revealed four types of stewardship understandings: (1) an environmental frame which emphasized the farmers’ role in conserving or restoring wildlife; (2) a primary production frame which emphasized the farmers’ role in taking care of primary production assets; (3) a holistic frame focusing on farmers’ role as a conservationist, primary producer, and manager of a range of landscape values, and; (4) an instrumental frame focusing on the financial benefits associated with compliance with agri-environmental schemes. We compare the landscape values and land management actions that emerged across stewardship types, and discuss the global implications of the landscape stewardship classification for the engagement of farmers in landscape management.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Andersson, E., S. Barthel, and K. Ahrné. 2007. Measuring social–ecological dynamics behind the generation of ecosystem services. Ecological Applications 17: 1267–1278.

  2. Bieling, C., and M. Bürgi. 2014. List and documentation of case study landscapes selected for HERCULES. EU-Project Deliverable GA No. 603447. Accessed Online 10 February, 2015, from http://www.hercules-landscapes.eu/tartalom/HERCULES_WP3_D3_1_ALUFR_final.pdf.

  3. Boyatzis, R.E. 1998. Transforming qualitative information: Thematic analysis and code development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  4. Braun, V., and V. Clarke. 2013. Successful qualitative analysis: A practical guide for beginners. London: Sage Publications.

  5. Brown, T.C. 1984. The concept of value in resource allocation. Land Economics 60: 231–246.

  6. Brown, G. 2012. Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) for regional and environmental planning: Reflections on a decade of empirical research. URISA Journal 24: 7–18.

  7. Brown, G., and L. Brabyn. 2012. An analysis of the relationships between multiple values and physical landscapes at a regional scale using public participation GIS and landscape character classification. Landscape and Urban Planning 107(3): 317–331.

  8. Brown, J., and B. Mitchell. 2000. The stewardship approach and its relevance for protected landscapes. The George Wright Forum 17: 70–79.

  9. Chapin, F.S., S.T.A. Pickett, M.E. Power, R.B. Jackson, D.M. Carter, and C. Duke. 2011. Earth stewardship: A strategy for social–ecological transformation to reverse planetary degradation. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 1: 44–53.

  10. Coeterier, J.F. 1996. Dominant attributes in the perception and evaluation of the Dutch landscape. Landscape and Urban Planning 34: 27–44.

  11. Conrad, E., M. Christie, and I. Fazey. 2011. Understanding public perceptions of landscape: A case study from Gozo, Malta. Applied Geography 31: 159–170.

  12. Daugstad, K., K. Rønningen, and B. Skar. 2006. Agriculture as an upholder of cultural heritage? Conceptualizations and value judgements—A Norwegian perspective in international context. Journal of Rural Studies 22: 67–81.

  13. DEFRA. 2014. Farm Business Survey. Data collected by Rural Business Research on behalf of, and financed by, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Accessed Online 30 May 2015, from http://www.farmbusinesssurvey.co.uk/DataBuilder/.

  14. Emtage, N., J. Herbohn, and S. Harrison. 2006. Landholder typologies used in the development of natural resource management programs in Australia—A review. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management 13: 79–94.

  15. Fagerholm, N., and N. Käyhkö. 2009. Participatory mapping and geographical patterns of the social landscape values of rural communities in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Fennia 187: 43–60.

  16. Folke, C., F.S. Chapin, and P. Olsson. 2009. Transformations in ecosystem stewardship. In Principles of ecosystem stewardship: Resilience-based natural resource management in a changing world, 103–125. New York: Springer.

  17. Folke, C., S. Carpenter, B. Walker, M. Scheffer, T. Elmqvist, L. Gunderson, and C.S. Holling. 2004. Regime shifts, resilience, and biodiversity in ecosystem management. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics 35: 557–581.

  18. Folke, C., T. Hahn, P. Olsson, and J. Norberg. 2005. Adaptive governance of social–ecological systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 30: 441–473.

  19. Folke, C., Å. Jansson, J. Rockström, P. Olsson, S.R. Carpenter, F.S. Chapin, A.-S. Crépin, G. Daily, et al. 2011. Reconnecting to the Biosphere. Ambio 40: 719–738.

  20. Fry, G.L.A. 2001. Multifunctional landscapes – towards transdisciplinary research. Landscape and Urban Planning 57: 159–168.

  21. Future Earth. 2015. About Future Earth. Accessed Online http://www.icsu.org/future-earth.

  22. Guest, G., and K.M. MacQueen. 2012. Introduction to applied thematic analysis. In Applied thematic analysis, ed. G. Guest, K.M. Macqueen, and E.E. Namey. UK: Sage.

  23. Kofinas, G.P., and F.S. Chapin. 2009. Livelihoods and human well-being during social–ecological change. In Principles of ecosystem stewardship: Resilience-based natural resource management in a changing world, 55–75. New York: Springer.

  24. Lindborg, R., J. Bengtsson, Å. Berg, S.A.O. Cousins, O. Eriksson, T. Gustafsson, K.P. Hasund, L. Lenoir, et al. 2008. A landscape perspective on conservation of semi-natural grasslands. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 125: 213–222.

  25. Lockwood, M. 1999. Humans valuing nature: Synthesising insights from philosophy, psychology and economics. Environmental Values 8: 381–401.

  26. Milfont, T.L., J. Duckitt, and C. Wagner. 2010. A cross-cultural test of the value–attitude–behavior hierarchy. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 40: 2791–2813.

  27. Nassauer, J.I. 2011. Care and stewardship: From home to planet. Landscape and Urban Planning 100: 321–323.

  28. Natori, Y., and R. Chenoweth. 2008. Differences in rural landscape perceptions and preferences between farmers and naturalists. Journal of Environmental Psychology 28: 250–267.

  29. Ode Sang, Å., and M.S. Tveit. 2013. Perceptions of stewardship in Norwegian agricultural landscapes. Land Use Policy 31: 557–564.

  30. Ode, Å., M.S. Tveit, and G. Fry. 2008. Capturing landscape visual character using indicators: Touching base with landscape aesthetic theory. Landscape Research 33: 89–117.

  31. Plieninger, T., T. Kizos, C. Bieling, L. Le Dû-Blayo, M.-A. Budniok, M. Bürgi, C.L. Crumley, G. Girod, P. Howard, and J. Kolen. 2015b. Exploring ecosystem-change and society through a landscape lens: Recent progress in European landscape research. Ecology and Society 20(2): art. 5.

  32. Plieninger, T., C. Bieling, N. Fagerholm, A. Byg, T. Hartel, P. Hurley, C.A. López-Santiago, N. Nagabhatla, E. Oteros-Rozas, C.M. Raymond, D. van der Horst, and L. Huntsinger. 2015a. The role of cultural ecosystem services in landscape management and planning. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 14: 28–33.

  33. Pretty, J. 2003. Social capital and the collective management of resources. Science 302: 1912–1914.

  34. Primdahl, J., L.S. Kristensen, and A.G. Busck. 2013. The farmer and landscape management: Different roles, different policy approaches. Geography Compass 7: 300–314.

  35. Raymond, C.M., and G. Brown. 2006. A method for assessing protected area allocations using a typology of landscape values. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 49: 797–812.

  36. Raymond, C.M., G. Brown, and G.M. Robinson. 2011. The influence of place attachment, and moral and normative concerns on the conservation of native vegetation: A test of two behavioural models. Journal of Environmental Psychology 31: 323–335.

  37. Raymond, C.M., G.G. Singh, K. Benessaiah, J.R. Bernhardt, J. Levine, H. Nelson, N.J. Turner, B. Norton, et al. 2013. Ecosystem services and beyond: Using multiple metaphors to understand human–environment relationships. BioScience 63: 536–546.

  38. Renting, H., W.A.H. Rossing, J.C.J. Groot, J.D. Van der Ploeg, C. Laurent, D. Perraud, D.J. Stobbelaar, and M.K. Van Ittersum. 2009. Exploring multifunctional agriculture. A review of conceptual approaches and prospects for an integrative transitional framework. Journal of Environmental Management 90: S112–S123.

  39. Robinson, G.M. 2006. Canada’s environmental farm plans: Transatlantic perspectives on agri-environmental schemes. Geographical Journal 172: 206–218.

  40. Robinson, G.M. 2008. Sustainable rural systems: An introduction. In Sustainable rural systems: Sustainable agriculture and rural communities, ed. G.M. Robinson, 3–40. Basingstoke: Ashgate.

  41. Schwartz, S.H., and A. Bardi. 2001. Value hierarchies across cultures—Taking a similarities perspective. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 32: 268–290.

  42. Schwartz, S.H., and W. Bilsky. 1987. Toward a universal psychological structure of human values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 53: 550–562.

  43. Seastedt, T.R., K.N. Suding, and F.S. Chapin. 2013. Ecosystem stewardship as a framework for conservation in a directionally changing world. In Novel ecosystems: Intervening in the new ecological world order, 326–333. New York: Wiley.

  44. Setten, G., M. Stenseke, and J. Moen. 2012. Ecosystem services and landscape management: Three challenges and one plea. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 8: 305–312.

  45. Strauss, A.L., and J. Corbin. 1990. Basics of qualitative research techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

  46. Tengö, M., E.S. Brondizio, T. Elmqvist, P. Malmer, and M. Spierenburg. 2014. Connecting diverse knowledge systems for enhanced ecosystem governance: The multiple evidence base approach. Ambio 43: 579–591.

  47. Turner, J.C., P.J. Oakes, S.A. Haslam, and C. McGarty. 1994. Self and collective: Cognition and social context. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 20: 454–463.

  48. Tveit, M., Å. Ode, and G. Fry. 2006. Key concepts in a framework for analysing visual landscape character. Landscape Research 31: 229–255.

  49. Worrell, R., and M.C. Appleby. 2000. Stewardship of natural resources: Definition, ethical and practical aspects. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 12: 263–277.

  50. Zube, E.H. 1987. Perceived land use patterns and landscape values. Landscape Ecology 1: 37–45.

Download references


This research received support through Grant 603447 (Project HERCULES) from the European Commission (7th Framework Program). The paper is a contribution to the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (www.pecs-science.org) and the Global Land Project (www.globallandproject.org).

Author information

Correspondence to Christopher M. Raymond.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Raymond, C.M., Bieling, C., Fagerholm, N. et al. The farmer as a landscape steward: Comparing local understandings of landscape stewardship, landscape values, and land management actions. Ambio 45, 173–184 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-015-0694-0

Download citation


  • Conservation behavior
  • Social values
  • Environmental management
  • Pro-environmental behavior
  • Production behavior