Conceptual development of a harmonised method for tracking change and evaluating policy in the agri-environment: The Agri-environmental Footprint Index
Purvis, G., Louwagie, G., Northey, G., Mortimer, S., Park, J., Mauchline, A., Finn, J., Primdahl, J., Vejre, H., Vesterager, J. P., Knickel, K., Kasperczyk, N., Balazs, K., Vlahos, G., Christopoulos, S. and Peltola, J. (2009) Conceptual development of a harmonised method for tracking change and evaluating policy in the agri-environment: The Agri-environmental Footprint Index. Environmental Science & Policy, 12 (3). pp. 321-337. ISSN 1462-9011
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2009.01.005
An aggregated farm-level index, the Agri-environmental Footprint Index (AFI), based on multiple criteria methods and representing a harmonised approach to evaluation of EU agri-environmental schemes is described. The index uses a common framework for the design and evaluation of policy that can be customised to locally relevant agri-environmental issues and circumstances. Evaluation can be strictly policy-focused, or broader and more holistic in that context-relevant assessment criteria that are not necessarily considered in the evaluated policy can nevertheless be incorporated. The Index structure is flexible, and can respond to diverse local needs. The process of Index construction is interactive, engaging farmers and other relevant stakeholders in a transparent decision-making process that can ensure acceptance of the outcome, help to forge an improved understanding of local agri-environmental priorities and potentially increase awareness of the critical role of farmers in environmental management. The structure of the AFI facilitates post-evaluation analysis of relative performance in different dimensions of the agri-environment, permitting identification of current strengths and weaknesses, and enabling future improvement in policy design. Quantification of the environmental impact of agriculture beyond the stated aims of policy using an 'unweighted' form of the AFI has potential as the basis of an ongoing system of environmental audit within a specified agricultural context. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.