While multiple studies have identified land managers' preferences for agri-environmental schemes (AES), few approaches exist for integrating different understandings of landscape stewardship into the design of these measures. We compared and contrasted rural land managers' attitudes toward AES and their preferences for AES design beyond 2020 across different understandings of landscape stewardship. Forty semi-structured interviews were conducted with similar proportions of small holders, medium holders and large holders in southwest Devon, UK. Overall, respondents most frequently cited concerns related to the reduced amount of funding available for entry-level and higher-level stewardship schemes in the UK since 2008, changing funding priorities, perceived overstrict compliance and lack of support for farm succession and new entrants into farming. However, there were differences in concerns across understandings of landscape stewardship, with production respondents citing that AES do not encourage food production, whereas environmental and holistic farmers citing that AES do not support the development of a local green food culture and associated social infrastructure. These differences also emerged in preferences for AES design beyond 2020. We adapted a collaborative and coordinated approach for designing AES to account for the differing interests of land managers based on their understanding of landscape stewardship. We discuss the implications of this approach for environmental policy design in the European Union and elsewhere.
- agri-environmental measures
- collaborative management
- common agricultural policy
- community-based natural resource management
- landscape stewardship
- payments for ecosystem services