The missing social dimensions of agri-environment schemes in the UK and lessons for a post-Brexit era

Mills, Jane ORCID: 0000-0003-3835-3058 (2023) The missing social dimensions of agri-environment schemes in the UK and lessons for a post-Brexit era. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/BB52Z6H3

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Agri-environment schemes (AES) in the UK offer payments to farmers or landowners to undertake environmentally-beneficial management practices. Despite the long-term financial support available for these schemes, their success in providing environmental benefits is variable. Many farmers show limited engagement with the objectives of these schemes and long-term pro-environmental behaviours is often lacking. Furthermore, policy-makers lack monitoring and evaluation tools to assess AES achievements in influencing farmers’ long-term willingness to deliver environmental outcomes, as well as the role of AES in contributing to the social sustainability of farming. Conceptually, the thesis draws on behavioural science to identify through empirical research the central role of the psycho-social factors that affect farmers’ pro-environmental behaviour in the context of AES. It further examines the potential of AES to deliver social outcomes that strengthen the farming community. The findings from the research, which uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, are published in four peer-reviewed papers. An important contribution is the development and application of a new conceptual framework which extends previous behavioural models focused on farmers’ willingness and ability, to include the influence of social relations, recognising that farmer behaviour change is part of a social process that is facilitated through long-term advice and supportive relationships. The findings also identify the importance of social norms, self-identity and behavioural control beliefs in influencing farmers’ willingness to engage in environmental practices. Social sustainability outcomes resulting from AES participation relating to health and wellbeing and quality of life are identified. A key contribution is the development of these social factors into indicators for measuring both the ‘quality’ of farmer engagement with AES and the social sustainability of AES. In this way, this body of research enables a better understanding of the relationship between social and environmental outcomes and can help policy-makers to gauge the social sustainability of AES. Policy recommendations and future research directions are identified with the aim of strengthening post-Brexit AES design and delivery to incorporate social goals, alongside environmental ones.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agri-environment schemes; Pro-environmental behaviour; Psycho-social factors; Social indicators; Social sustainability; PhD by publication
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General) > S560 Farm Economics
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General) > S589.75 Agriculture and the environment
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Kamila Niekoraniec
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2023 15:01
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2023 14:58

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