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How values and perceptions shape farmers' biodiversity management: insights from ten European countries

Klebl, F. ORCID:, Parisi, A., Häfner, K., Adler, A., Barreiro, S., Valentin Bodea, F., Brönnimann, V., Reinier de Vries, J. P., Dos Santos, A., Hood, A. S. C. ORCID:, Melts, I., Popa, R., Vajna, F., Velado-Alonso, E. and Kernecker, M. L. (2024) How values and perceptions shape farmers' biodiversity management: insights from ten European countries. Biological Conservation, 291. 110496. ISSN 0006-3207

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2024.110496


Farmers play a pivotal role in addressing biodiversity loss whilst maintaining food production. To rethink conservation in agricultural landscapes, it is crucial to understand their decisions regarding biodiversity and its management on the farms. In this study, we conducted 48 semi-structured interviews across ten European countries in 2021/22 to explore how farmers’ perceptions and valuations relate to their biodiversity management. Employing reflexive thematic analysis, we identified recurring patterns of shared meanings. Our findings underscore the profound influence of farmers’ biodiversity perceptions on their biodiversity management practices: 1) Narrow and targeted interventions were closely tied to instrumental values of biodiversity, whereas holistic management strategies were linked with recognising an inherent value of nature. 2) Targeted approaches were related to farmers’ interpretations of biodiversity as specific taxa and functions, relying on easily assessable and emotionally connoted indicators. 3) Holistic approaches aligned with a broader biodiversity concept and an emphasis on intricate functional relationships within ecosystems. 4) Actual decisions to implement measures were significantly constrained by perceived dependencies, namely production pathways, social dependencies, and landscape conditions. These findings raise a critical question about the prioritisation of ecocentric intrinsic versus anthropocentric instrumental values in conservation strategies. We propose an approach of ethical pluralism, acknowledging that instrumental values may provide practical solutions for certain challenges, while intrinsic values hold ethical significance, particularly in the context of complex or large-scale biodiversity conservation initiatives. Engaging in dialogue that accounts for diverse values will be essential for shaping effective and socially meaningful biodiversity conservation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:115309


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