A combined approach to assess the impacts of Ecological Focus Areas on regional structural development and agricultural land use

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The 2013 reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) introduced compulsory ‘greening’ measures with the goal to mitigate environmental degradation caused by intensive agriculture. This paper aims to investigate how the implementation of the Ecological Focus Areas (EFA) obligation will affect regional agricultural development, the economic performance of farms and land use (including choices of EFA measures) in two representative EU regions. The research approach combines agent-based modelling (ABM) with stakeholder interactions to evaluate how farmers are likely to adapt to the new policy framework and the implications for their behaviour of the different components of the EFA obligation. Our results show that structural impacts of EFA measures are minor in both regions. The most preferred alternatives (fallow land in Sweden and catch crops in Germany) are income preserving for farmers rather than being effective for improving the environment. However, general concerns by farmers for biodiversity and the potential benefits for developing sustainable agriculture were revealed during the stakeholder workshops. We conclude that the large flexibility in choice of measures, watering down of the EFA regulations, implementation at the farm scale and lack of spatial targeting will all but eliminate any potential environmental benefits of the greening measures and subsequently, undermine farmers’ and citizens’ confidence in the CAP and its makers.


External organisations
  • Leibniz Institute Of Agricultural Development In Transition Economies (IAMO)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries
  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-144
JournalReview of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 27
Publication categoryResearch

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Henrik Smith, Juliana Dänhardt, David Kleijn, Felix Schläpfer, Amanda Sahrbacher, Jens Newig, Adrien Rusch, Riccardo Bommarco, Manuel Plantegenest, Ullrika Sahlin & Mark Brady

FORMAS, a Swedish research council for sustainable development


Project: ResearchInternational collaboration

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