Factors affecting participation in group agri-environment schemes: a case study of the Dartmoor Commons
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Environmental stewardship schemes are an important driver of biodiversity and habitat improvement throughout England, with the provision of funding to land managers to deliver effective land management that will benefit wildlife, habitats, natural resources and the population. Participation in agri-environment schemes is voluntary and much is done to encourage scheme participation. Dartmoor is a designated landscape, a National Park, and a Special Area of Conservation and encompasses areas of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Dartmoor is a farmed landscape, with the area divided into 92 common land units, over which a diversity of common rights are exercised. At present, the majority of Dartmoor Commons are managed by Environmental agreements, protecting the habitat and the SSSI’s. There is a demand for Dartmoor to be a recreational area, an environmental jewel, and a farmed landscape. Protection of this landscape requires the amalgamation of various organisations and individuals. Research indicates the benefits of group agri-environment schemes, of a landscape-scale approach to the improvement of habitats and the provision of wildlife corridors, crossing the boundaries of land ownership. vi The research considers the factors associated with group agri-environment schemes, where it is not necessarily like-minded individuals who come together because of a common cause and a shared vision. The issue surrounding common rights results in persons coming together because they have common rights and not necessarily a common view. A combination of interview responses and questionnaire data has been pulled together to ascertain the factors affecting agri-environment scheme participation on Dartmoor. The data reflects on the impacts of group agri-environment schemes on the commons of Dartmoor. The question remains as to the voluntary nature of group agri-environment schemes on Dartmoor. Hardin (1968) recognised the impact of one commoner’s decision had on another. Dartmoor agri-environment schemes require participation from the majority of commoners; therefore an individual’s action has a consequence. This research aims to investigate the impacts of agri-environment schemes on the commons of Dartmoor.
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