Farmers’ perceptions of biodiversity: Lessons from a discourse-based deliberative valuation study

Eszter Kelemen, Geneviève Nguyen, Tiziano Gomiero, Eszter Kovács, Jean-Philippe Choisis, Norma Choisis, Maurizio G. Paoletti, László Podmaniczky, Julie Ryschawy, Jean-Pierre Sarthou, Felix Herzog, Peter Dennis, Katalin Balázs

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71 Citations (SciVal)


In agricultural landscapes farmers have a large impact on biodiversity through the management decisions they apply on their fields. Farmers’ perception on biodiversity and its values is one of the main factors that can influence their willingness to apply biodiversity friendly farming practices. The results of a discourse-based, deliberative biodiversity valuation are presented in this paper. Perceptions of organic and conventional farmers on biodiversity and its values were analysed across three European countries. Focus group methodology was used to explore how farmers perceive biodiversity and how they assess its values.
Our results suggest that farmers’ perceptions on biodiversity is strongly embedded in their everyday lives and linked to farming practices. Besides recognising the importance of species and habitat diversity, farmers also acknowledge wider landscape processes and attach value to the complexity of ecological systems. Organic farmers tended to have a more complex and philosophical approach to biodiversity and they were relatively homogeneous in this aspect, while conventional farmers showed larger heterogeneity. Ethical and social values were important for all farmers. Economic value was more dominant in the conventional focus groups.
Important consequences can be drawn from these observations. Neither the context nor the participants of a valuation exercise are homogeneous, which needs to be considered before choosing the valuation method. The valuation method should be able to reflect the large heterogeneity of biodiversity values. Farmers’ strong acknowledgement of social and ethical biodiversity values suggests that soft policy tools could also foster pro-biodiversity farming, complementary to mainstream monetary incentives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-328
JournalLand Use Policy
Early online date10 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • biodiversity
  • discourse-based deliberative valuation
  • focus group
  • organic farming
  • conventional farming


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