Evaluating Agri-environmental Policies

Design, Practice and Results

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These conference proceedings present a series of evaluations of agri-environmental policies in OECD countries.  They examine how effective the policies have been in achieving objectives and what policy makers have learned about the design and implementation of their policies. 

These proceedings show that different methods of policy evaluation are complementary. Most countries focus on evaluating the environmental effectiveness rather than the economic efficiency of policies, using physical indicators rather than monetary values. Many policies are achieving their environmental objectives, but are taking longer than originally anticipated. The initiative being taken in many countries to incorporate monitoring and data collection into programme design and implementation is a positive development.  But a number of steps need to be taken to improve the quality of evaluations, including the better articulation of policy goals and objectives, improving data quality and establishing baselines for comparison.



The Regulation of Nutrient Losses in Denmark to Control Aquatic Pollution from Agriculture

Since 1985, a number of Action Plans have been implemented in Denmark to reduce nitrate leaching from agriculture. The regulatory measures applied include area-related measures (e.g. wetlands and afforestation) and nutrient-related measures (e.g. mandatory fertiliser plans and improved utilisation of nitrogen in manure). These have been implemented alongside research programmes and dialogue between authorities and the agricultural community. To monitor the development in nitrogen losses from the agricultural system three national indicators are used: nitrogen surplus, nitrogen efficiency and nitrate leaching. Over the period 1979-2002, the nitrogen surplus has fallen by over one-third, nitrogen efficiency has increased from 27% to 36%, and model calculations estimate a 48% reduction in nitrate leaching. Environmental monitoring programmes show a decrease in the nitrogen concentration of water leaving the root zone in both rivers and in coastal waters. The Danish approach to regulating nutrient losses from agriculture has proven successful but with a delay in achieving the environmental objectives. To date the regulation has been performed on a national scale. A more regional or local approach is believed to be necessary in future.


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