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Abstract

There is increasing recognition that there are a range of environmental goods and services that are important to society as a whole, but may have little or no value to individual landowners whose land may contribute to the overall production of these services within the landscape. Many of these goods and services may be a minor output of any one parcel of land, but when aggregated across a landscape become important generally. Management of agricultural landscapes has typically been considered as an emergent property arising from the individual decisions of individual landowners. However, this leads to the potential for a “tyranny of small decisions” (Odum, 1982) that in aggregate can contribute to the erosion of the environmental commons. This paper outlines the evidence for landscape effects on ecological systems, and suggests that such systems should be managed at a scale greater than the farm. This in turn implies that agri-environment schemes can function with greater impact if implemented across landscapes, allowing efficiency gains required within the “sustainable intensification” agenda. The challenge then is to derive policy instruments that can drive “top down” or “bottom up” implementation of such schemes such that neighbouring landowners do the “right thing” in the “right place”. The proposed mechanism for “greening” the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is currently under debate: the extent to which the proposals are consistent with the overall need to balance biodiversity and production needs is discussed

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