There is a growing interest in the conservation potential of linking payments to land managers to ecological outcomes. We drew on the experiences of all schemes paying for biodiversity outcomes on farmland in European countries with the aim of identifying the decisive elements of the schemes’ design and implementation as well as the challenges and opportunities of adopting the approach for biodiversity. We used evidence from peer-reviewed literature and technical reports, as well as 20 questionnaire responses and discussions with over 50 key experts in the field of agri-environment-climate policy and results-based schemes (RBS).
We identified 36 payment schemes in nine countries that could be called RBS for biodiversity. The majority are in N and W Europe and half are in Germany. Based on the extent to which the schemes’ ‘payment’ and ‘control’ mechanisms are dependent on a priori specified biodiversity outcomes, we constructed a RBS typology. Payments are based solely on results (‘pure’ RBS) in only five cases. Most RBS include some basic land management requirements. There is a growing body of research focusing on the approach, also with half of it from Germany. Most studies focus exclusively on the development and testing of ecological indicators and ecological performance. A handful of studies loot at attitudes of payment recipients to the approach. In two countries research integrated ecological, social and economic assessments.
The evidence to date shows that there are at least 11 unique advantages to the RBS compared to management-based ones with similar objectives. These deal with environmental efficiency, farmer participation, and development of local biodiversity-based projects. Although results-based approaches have specific challenges at every stage of design and implementation, for many of these the existing schemes provide potential solutions. There is some apprehension about trying a results-based approach in Mediterranean, central and eastern EU Member States. We conclude that there is clear potential to expand the approach under the Rural Development programming period for 2021–2028. Evidence is needed about the approach’s efficiency in delivering conservation outcomes in the long term, its additionality, impact on the knowledge and attitudes of land managers and society at large, development of ways of rewarding the achievement of actual results, as well as its potential for stimulating innovative grassroots solutions. We illustrate the approach with a Finnish case that explores ecological, social and economic dimensions.
1. Allen B, Hart K, Radley G, Tucker G, et al. 2014. Biodiversity protection through results-based remuneration of ecological achievement. Report prepared for the European Commission, DG Environment, Institute for European Environmental Policy, London.
2. Herzon I, Birge T, Allen B et al. 2018. Time to look for evidence: results-based approach to biodiversity conservation on farmland in Europe. Land Use Policy