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Hedgerow planting analysed as a social system – interaction between farmers and other actors in Denmark

Journal of Environmental Management

Abstract

In a number of European countries, including Denmark, the practice of planting hedgerows has a long tradition, and hedgerows form significant structures of semi-natural elements in a matrix of arable land. In Denmark an institutionalised framework has developed in relation to a subsidy scheme encouraging farmers to plant hedgerows. This article analyses the planting practice as a social system; giving emphasis to the interactions between actors and how this affects the current planting activity. Combining an overall description of the nationwide network with a detailed case study in Jutland, Denmark enables an understanding of how the local planting practice is influenced by the local context and the nationwide network, and at the same time contributes to the reproduction of the entire network. It is concluded that the planting activity is characterised by routines, professionalism and division of labour. The local actors involved perceive the activity as a success, and do not question current practise. However, the actors are not aware of the potential consequences of the planting practice at the landscape scale. Even though hedgerows are planted through so-called planting associations related to defined local areas the placement of hedgerows is not co-ordinated and evaluated at a landscape scale. In addition, the composition of hedgerows is standardised at a national level, and the individual farmer makes few adjustments. Thus, the sense of local landscape identity may become blurred. The increasing public attention towards a multiplicity of functions in the agricultural landscape implies further development of the potential positive landscape effects of hedgerows in a local context. This may induce changes in the relationships between actors and eventually the planting practice. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All fights reserved.

Author(s): Busck, AG

Journal: Journal of Environmental Management

Year: 2003

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