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Ecological and social challenges to biodiversity conservation on farmland: reconnecting habitats on a landscape scale


  • Editor: PW

A. Dutton. E-mail:


  • 1Landscape level planning is essential if agri-environment schemes (AESs) are to reduce the fragmentation and vulnerability of many mammal populations. But if AESs are to work at the landscape level, then some form of planning and/or targeting of participating farmers may be required.
  • 2We developed an integrated, landscape-scale project in the Chichester Plains, where we demonstrated that farmer participation in conservation work could be enhanced by offering greater temporal flexibility and bespoke design of projects in synergy with business needs.
  • 3We adapted an existing model of farmer behaviour, based on farmers' responses to attitudinal questions, and applied this to farmers in two regions of England, the Chichester Plains and the Upper Thames. The model predicted farmer uptake of AESs with 79% accuracy.
  • 4We postulate that the effectiveness of AESs at the landscape level could be enhanced by using ecological models to identify suitable tracts of habitat, and then by using simple behavioural models to identify the farmers in appropriate areas who are most likely to adopt the conservation schemes. Finally, in order to maximize the likelihood of farmers joining the scheme, we would recommend working with farmers on a one-to-one basis in order to tailor the details of the AES to their particular ecological and business situations.