Environmental Stewardship (ES) replaced the former Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CS) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas in 2005 as the agri-environment scheme for England. It has three strands: Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), Organic Entry Level stewardship (OELS) and Higher Level Stewardship (HLS). In order to demonstrate value for money from the expenditure on the scheme, a valuation of the benefits of ES is required. The aims of the exercise are to identify ES outcomes that contribute to public welfare, to assess the value in economic terms of these benefits, and to investigate alternative uptake scenarios, including an ‘enhanced ELS’, to identify prospects for increasing the level of benefits. The objectives of the study are as follows:
0 (scoping stage) To review existing monitoring and evaluation evidence and develop a methodology framework for the project
1. To estimate the value of non-market benefits provided by ELS implemented over the period 2005 to 2013
2. To estimate the value of the non-market benefits provided by HLS implemented over the period 2005 to 2013
3. To determine whether ELS or HLS are delivering non-market benefits of greater value than the cost to the Treasury
4. To determine whether larger benefits are being achieved by ELS and HLS in some landscape types than others
5. To investigate possible alternative policy scenarios for uptake of the options that would deliver greater total benefits than currently achieved by ELS and HLS.
The scoping stage will consist of three strands:
(i). A review of existing evidence of benefits arising from ES, including an analysis of option uptake data, and a review of monitoring and evaluation work to date;
(ii). A review of previous valuations of environmental management schemes;
(iii). Development of a detailed framework for the methodology to be used in the remainder of the project.
Objective 1 will have five steps:
Step 1: Developing a landscape classification. This will establish the typology of landscapes to be studied, building on the work already carried out in the landscape valuation scoping study carried out by the Univrstiy of Sheffield.
Step 2: Establishing counterfactual and scenarios. Uptake data will be analysed to determine 'typical' ELS scenarios for the each of the landscape types to be considered. A counterfactual (situation without ELS) will be established using evidence from the ES evaluation and the literature. It will be linked to projected policy changes to 2013. The policy change assumptions and draft counterfactuals will be tested at a series of workshops with industry experts and revised according to the outcomes.
Step 3: Assessing the impacts. Indicators will be selected for ecosystem services for which the evidence of ES impacts is strongest, based on previous research, in relation to the key objectives of the scheme.
Step 4: Economic valuation of ELS benefits. This is central to the aims of the project, and will be carried out through a questionnaire survey using 'stated preference questions' to establish willingness to pay for the benefits conferred by the scheme. A choice experiment would then establish preferences within the dfferent landscape types. A draft questionnaire will be validated by focus groups and piloted prior to the main survey.
Step 5: Aggregation of values. Values for the landscape types will be aggregated according to the population sample distribution to provide national estimates of benefits.
Objective 2 will be carried out through a second questionnaire survey as described above for ELS.
Under Objective 3, The valuations resulting from the survey work will then be compared to the costs of the ELS and HLS schemes to provide a cost/benefit analysis.
A comparison of benefits between landscape types will be carried out under objective 4, relating the values to uptake data for the ELS and HLS.
Objective 5 will investigate alternatives to the current ELS and HLS framework. A comparative analysis will be carried out of the value, type and distribution of scheme benefits, comparing ELS and HLS. The potential of an additional 'enhanced ELS', incorporating modified options offering greater environmental benefits at a higher payment level, and geographical targeting, will be investigated and compared with the benefits of ELS and HLS. This will be informed by the recent ES review of progress.