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Market, institutional and socio-economic drivers that support and inhibit the provision of environmental and social benefits from EU agriculture and forestry

By amarechal.
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Analysis is currently underway in ten countries to identify and understand the relationships between key groups of socio-political, economic and institutional factors considered crucial for influencing the levels of provision and appreciation of environmental and social benefits in different EU contexts. These include the different farming/forestry systems, socio-ecological conditions and policy instruments used.

The final analysis intends to provide an example-based contribution to improve our understanding of the most important drivers that have supported or inhibited the provision of ESBOs until now and how this might change in the future. This includes looking at regional/local institutions, market drivers and relevant associations and partnerships to explain the varying levels of provision experienced in different situations. It also aims to identify the types of policy instrument that appear to play a major role in providing the necessary conditions to stimulate collective or other innovative action by farmers and foresters in relation to the provision of environmental and social benefits (e.g. regulatory framework, financial support, climate for enabling action). The analysis also recognises that other drivers, e.g. sectoral or natural drivers such as climate change also have an impact; and their varying roles will be developed in the PEGASUS case studies and in the EU as a whole.

The PEGASUS team held an EU-level seminar on 26 April 2016 in Brussels to discuss and review emerging findings. The seminar brought together EU and national level stakeholders, researchers and institutional representatives.

The report is expected to be published on the PEGASUS website during June 2016.

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Mapping and assessment of Public Goods and Ecosystem Services provision in relation to the diversity of EU farming and forestry systems in the EU

By amarechal.
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Figure 1: Forest management regimes. Source: Hengeveld, G.M., Nabuurs, G., Didion, M., Wyngaert, I.V.d., Clerkx, S., Schelhaas, M., (2012): A forest management map of European Forests.

By Marta Pérez-Soba (DLO-Alterra) and Maria Luisa Paracchini (JRC).

Agriculture and forestry activities influence the availability and quality of Public Goods (PG) and Ecosystem Services (ES) supplied by farming and forest ecosystems through management activities. There is a large spatial variation across Europe in the nature and management of farming and forestry systems, their biogeographic conditions and their social, economic and institutional context. Spatial analysis can help improve our understanding of the nature of PG/ES provision, the positive and negative interactions between provision and management in different situations, as well as the demand for different PG/ES in different locations. However, many different methodological approaches and different sets of indicators are currently being used to assess individual PG/ES at national/regional level, which makes it difficult to make comparisons between different Members States.

PEGASUS is building a consistent mapping approach, to achieve a more comprehensive and more operational inventory and geospatial understanding of the occurrence, condition and interactions of PG/ES in the diverse forestry and farming systems in the EU. This will be achieved by critically reviewing existing inventories, methodological approaches and indicator datasets for mapping. On this basis, current mapping and data collation and comparison will be extended to enable a more comprehensive analysis of PG/ES distribution in the EU, including the identification of areas of high and low supply. The analysis of variations in governance, institutional and market drivers and influences upon PG/ES and their status will complete the picture. Feedback from the broad range of real-world case studies will help to refine the framework and make it more operational.

A crucial outcome of the spatial analysis (at EU-28 level and in the case studies) is to reveal the relevant spatial scales at which agriculture and forestry systems provide PG/ES. There are some PG/ES that are strongly influenced by land management activities wherever they occur (e.g. GHG emissions) whilst others are dependent on the local context; some are produced in the vicinity of the locations that benefit from them, whilst others are produced much farther afield. For example urban areas can be many kilometres away from their sources of clean water, which could be a forest located in a mountain area in the region. The novelty of the analysis compared to existing frameworks is to identify where changes in management and/or governance are needed in order to improve provision, or where systems already providing high levels of PG/ESS need to be maintained.

The first step in the work (review of relevant datasets and approaches available at EU level to categorise and map PG/ES) has just been finalised. We found indicators or proxies to map PG/ES relating to the supply of 16 out of the 19 beneficial outcomes identified in PEGASUS. Available indicators describe the ecosystem service itself, or the ecosystem function underpinning the service. Moreover, most of the indicators available describe the potential service – the capacity of the ecosystem to deliver a good or service, also called stocks or assets. Only in rare cases are there indicators and data available that allow the actual service (linked to the demand) to be mapped.

Many times the indicator is clear but relevant data are not available to measure it, and proxies need to be used. For example, the PG/ES “provision of habitat”, of which biodiversity is a key variable, cannot be described through one indicator only - there is no one-measure-fits-all. The lack of pan European monitoring data especially for agrobiodiversity (existing only for birds), implies the use of proxies (including pressures) in PEGASUS. Concerning management, a good number of indicators and maps are available for both agriculture and forestry (see Figure 1 for forestry), especially for agriculture where many data are regularly collected through EU wide agricultural surveys. The socio- economic descriptors for farming and forestry are sufficiently populated, though indicators are mostly available at coarse resolutions (NUTS2, NUTS0) and in this case the agricultural sector benefits from the fact that being subsidised, its economic aspects are much more closely monitored and modelled than forestry.

In the coming months we will develop an operational classification system of different types of relationships between farming/forestry management systems and PG/ES, taking into account the relevant spatial and temporal scales. Preliminary analysis will inform the case study work and the case studies will also be used to check the assumptions underpinning this classification system and refine it over the course of the project.

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Introducing the social-ecological system framework: a review of public goods and ecosystem services theories and concepts

By amarechal.
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by Anne Maréchal, Janet Dwyer and Kaley Hart (CCRI and IEEP).

Rural land in the EU provides a wide range of key functions and services on which society depends – from production of food, feed and fibre to multiple environmental and social goods and services, such as climate mitigation, soil functionality, biodiversity, cultural landscapes or recreation. Yet the processes sustaining these environmentally and socially beneficial outcomes from farming and forestry are often under-valued in conventional markets. Current policy approaches to strengthen supply of these outcomes often is constrained by a combination of adverse market factors and failures as well as governance and delivery challenges.

The goal of PEGASUS is to investigate the factors influencing the provision of environmentally and socially beneficial outcomes (ESBOs) from agriculture and forestry, looking at drivers that encourage and inhibit the necessary management activities and examining the potential for positive change. In so doing, it aims to propose new ways to incentivise better ESBO delivery, finding ways to achieve long-term systemic changes towards a better balance of environmental, social and economic outcomes from agriculture and forestry in Europe.

In PEGASUS, we embrace the parallel concepts of “public goods” – an economic notion used to refer to goods that cannot easily be traded in markets, as opposed to private goods – and “ecosystem services”, a concept rooted in ecological science describing the set of complex, dynamic interactions taking place in an ecosystem and upon which we depend. PEGASUS uses the insights from both concepts to explore what agriculture and forestry can deliver that is beneficial for all in society. For the purposes of the project, we call these environmentally and socially ‘beneficial outcomes’ (ESBOs).

To achieve ‘beneficial outcomes’, it is essential to consider not only positive agricultural and forestry practices that actively enhance the provision of benefits for society, but also solutions that can reduce the occurrence or the impact of damaging practices (in other words, the mitigation of negative externalities). PEGASUS therefore examines both factors that support as well as inhibit the implementation of positive practices.

The innovative approach proposed by PEGASUS is to look at both environmental and the social dimensions of these systems together a means of finding long-term solutions. In 34 case studies across 10 EU countries, the PEGASUS teams are assessing the environmental and social resilience of the systems examined, adopting the analytical framework of social-ecological systems (SESs). This framework recognises the importance of understanding interactions between human and natural components in producing ESBOS through farming and forestry, and it provides an approach for examining these interlinkages and identifying scope for improvement.

Using the SES framework, the case studies are investigating contrasting approaches to encourage more balanced land management decisions and stimulate practical action with environmentally and socially beneficial outcomes. This includes examining different institutional settings, working closely with market incentives, understanding collective action/partnerships, identifying new forms of incentive provision and ways to facilitate behavioural change.

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