Our study examines the potential developments of cultural landscapes, taking into consideration various economic and social conditions (scenarios). The study takes place in three project regions which represent typical landscapes in Southern Germany and Austria. In each project area, the influence of a changing agri-food environment is analysed. The following scenarios are defined: (1) status quo (current economic and agri-political framework); (2) high-producer prices and constant (or even increasing) direct payments; and (3) low-producer prices and no (or very low) direct payments. In all three regions, potential production responses are estimated for all farms and aggregated on a regional level. The estimation takes into account social and economic parameters such as cash flow, size and type of farms, age of farmers and workload. The results show that the impact of the changing agro-economic environment differs in particular on the level of the study regions. Due to a lack of production alternatives, agricultural production in grassland areas is very unstable – especially if site conditions are unfavourable and economic conditions are disadvantageous. As a result, large-scale abandonment of agriculture is likely in low-yield grassland areas and consequences for landscape appearance might be dramatic. In high-yield grassland areas, agriculture is much more stable. However, under very disadvantageous conditions the extent of farms giving-up production is as high as in marginal grassland regions. Nevertheless one cannot expect large-scale set aside, because remaining farmers use the possibility of growth and lease a considerable quantity of land In contrast to this, farm structure in the arable regions is stable due to a high potential of production alternatives. However, landscape appearance may also change dramatically in this region due to the increasing importance of maize.


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