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Farmer attitudes to environmental management (CFE & ACE Observatory) - IF01114

Description
Defra has long recognised the role of the farmer and land manager in delivering environment benefits. There has been a long-standing commitment to the provision of environmental benefits through incentives and regulation and more recently an increasing emphasis on voluntary industry-led provision through the Campaign for the Farmer Environment (CFE). The stated aim of the research as set out in the project specification is to explore the link between farmers' attitudes to environmental management, their subsequent behaviour, and the perceived and actual environmental benefits. This will help inform Defra's understanding of the way to approach interventions to achieve and maintain environmental benefits on farmland despite alterations in regulatory, incentivised and voluntary approaches. It will also help Defra to identify the additionality between these different approaches and informal environmental management activities, which are defined as management activities that are not part of a scheme and are therefore not managed according to a set of prescriptions. In particular, it will assist Defra in reviewing the progress that CFE is making towards achieving its environmental goals and the success of the voluntary approach in engaging farmers in environmental management.

There are 4 specific research objectives as set out in the project specification which are to identify:

1) The factors (attitudinal, financial, etc) driving environmental activities;
2) The perceived and observed benefits (environmental, other) of environmental management activities;
3) The balance of environmental management activities and benefits accruing from formal and informal provision; and
4) The interactions between land under formal agreements and land outside of agreements

There are four key phases in our proposed approach to this research

Phase 1: Preparation of a Research Outline Paper: This paper will outline the scope of the study, incorporating evidence from other research, telephone interviews with industry and stakeholder experts and an expert workshop. It will also include a full draft of the face-to-face interview guide and accompanying notes. In addition, it will confirm the research methods to be used; clarifying the sampling framework for the selection of farmers; detailing how the interview data will be analysed; and defining the quality criteria for assessment of habitats on-farm.

Phase 2: Analysis of existing data sets: Existing data sets, such as the Farm Business Survey and CFE postal survey, will be analysed to identify the relationships between farm and farmer characteristics and the provision of formal or informal environmental management.

Phase 3: Primary data collection: The data collection phase of the research will be achieved through the completion of 2 main tasks:

i) In-depth farmer face-to-face interviews to explore farmers' attitudes, motivations and barriers to environmental management and their land management behaviour. A cross-section of farmers to be interviewed with be selected from the CFE 2011 postal survey.
ii) Detailed whole farm ecological surveys to identify the environmental benefits of formal and informal environmental management practices. The quality or condition of habitat and associated management will be measured as a means of indicating the potential environmental benefits that can be delivered with the habitat.

Phase 3: Data analysis: Detailed summaries of each farmer interview will be produced. The interviewers and ecologists will come together collectively to review each farm and to analyse the links between farmers attitudes' and subsequent behaviour and outcome. This process will also reveal the differences and similarities between perceived and observed environmental outcomes. The research findings will be presented at an expert workshop to obtain feedback on the findings in light of the expert's knowledge and experience.

Phase 4: Reporting and dissemination: The final report will include a section clearly highlighting the findings of the interviews and the implications for Defra. In addition to the usual executive summary, the consultants will present key findings to a Whitehall-based audience. The research findings will also be disseminated through presentations and conferences and seminars. In addition, the CCRI will produce a 2 page summary of the research to add to their Research Summary Series.
Objective
7. (b) Objectives

The main aim of this research is to explicitly explore the link between farmers’ attitudes to environmental management, their subsequent behaviour and actual environmental benefits. The specific objectives as set out in the project specification are to identify:

1) The factors (attitudinal, financial, etc) driving environmental activities;

2) The perceived and observed benefits (environmental, other) of environmental management activities;

3) The balance of environmental management activities and benefits accruing from formal and informal provision; and:

4) The interactions between land under formal agreements and land outside of agreements

Informal environmental management refers to those management activities that are not part of a scheme and therefore not managed according to a set of prescriptions, whereas formal environmental management activities are those that are prescribed as part of a scheme.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : Farmer Attitudes Final Report IF01114   (1768k)
• SUM - Summary Report : Farmer Attitudes Summary Final Report   (265k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2011

To: 2012

Cost: £218,703
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Countryside and Community Research Unit
Keywords