What are results-based schemes and how do they differ from other approaches?
Results-based payments are agri-environment type schemes where farmers and land managers are paid for “delivering” an environmental result or outcome, for example enabling or enhancing the presence on their land of specific breeding birds, butterflies or important flowers found in grasslands. In these schemes, farmers can choose what management is required to achieve the desired result, rather than being required to carry out specific management actions.
Of course, all agri-environment schemes are designed to deliver environmental results; they succeed in this to varying degrees. What defines a results-based scheme is that payments are made where a specific result is indeed achieved, making a direct link between the payment and the delivery of biodiversity or other environmental results on the ground. There are a wide variety of approaches to implementing results-based schemes in practice. Our study has identified a few so called “pure” results-based schemes where farmers receive a payment for a biodiversity outcome independent of what management practices they use. However, most of the schemes we have come across in this study are what we call “hybrid schemes” where farmers are paid partly for the successful delivery of biodiversity results and partly for adhering to defined management practices or carrying out specific actions. Sometimes a results-based payment may be offered as a top-up to payments for carrying out specific management actions.
What benefits do they bring?
Focussing payments on achieving results rather than on following a set of management actions offers farmers the flexibility to use their knowledge and experience to manage the land in a way that benefits both biodiversity as well as their normal farming operations.
In so doing results-based payment schemes often lead to an enhanced awareness of the importance of biodiversity conservation and protecting environmental resources as part of their agriculture systems.
How are schemes implemented and funded?
Results-based schemes can be funded in a variety of ways. Existing schemes are funded through public funding such as the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), national or regional funds, as well as private initiatives. They can be implemented through collective approaches, such as in the Netherlands, involve local or indigenous communities, such as the Sami reindeer herders in Sweden, or via individual farmers and land managers. Central to all of these approaches is engaging the knowledge of farmers in managing their land in a way that helps to improve biodiversity delivery as well as other environmental outcomes on the ground alongside their other agricultural activities.
Where can they be found?
There are already a number of results-based approaches operating in the EU and beyond. A variety of schemes can be found in different regions of Germany. France champions a grassland based scheme called “Prairies Fleuries” and an interesting scheme aimed at large mammalian carnivores can be found in Sweden. To explore numerous other EU schemes visit our dedicated inventory or read more in the expert articles on our web platform.
What do you think of paying farmers for achieving biodiversity results rather than only paying for specified management practices? What might be the benefits of this approach? Please post your comments below.