Nature conservation needs farmers

How can you persuade farmers to increase the biodiversity on their land? Professor of Nature Conservation David Kleijn will be figuring out how to do that in a major European project.
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‘Most land is managed by farmers, who also have an indirect effect on nature reserves. So you must get farmers involved,’ says Kleijn. ‘But it is difficult to find effective conservation measures for farmers. The question is why.’

Kleijn will be investigating this over the next five years in a major European project entitled Showcase. The idea is that the study will pinpoint the right incentives for getting farmers to invest seriously in biodiversity. Kleijn: ‘We will look at the effect measures have on farmers’ income, for instance.’

Ten areas

Showcase will consider 10 areas in Europe that represent the full range of different farming systems. It will focus explicitly on the impact of measures on farmers’ business operations (yields and profits). That is why sociologists and economists are also involved. In the Netherlands, there will be a study in south Limburg where Kleijn is trying to reintroduce the shrill carder bumblebee with measures such as new mowing practices.

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