Supporting Common Grazing through Agri-environment: Lessons from an Ex Post Evaluation

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Date
2012
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Abstract
"Common grazings are a very significant element of the land use system in Scotland’s more fragile rural areas and provide a wide range of public goods in association with socio-economically weak agricultural systems. However they have not been specifically considered during the drafting of the current Rural Development Plan and the uptake of the various measures by common grazings committees has not been assessed by the Scottish authorities. Uptake of both types of agri-environment measures are abysmal (4.8% and 5.6% respectively), even in the context of low overall uptake (20.3% and 16.2%). In general uptake by grazings is substantially lower than overall uptake even in the same parish. A range of factors are thought to be at play, including • Large numbers of unregulated grazings • Difficulty of application in general, with additional difficulties for grazings including getting agreement of large numbers of stakeholders, the need to balance needs of inactive and active graziers • High bureaucratic threshold for application for grazings in particular, including agreement rules and requirement to provide accounts • Weaknesses in advisory provision and lack of capacity in Crofting Commission to extend regulation and support committees • Cost of advice/application, especially given transaction costs of grazings • Paucity of attractive options, and especially of support for positive management • Specific problems with the summer cattle grazing option Specific recommendations are made."
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agriculture, rural development, land tenure and use, pastoralism
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