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  • Publication
    Assessing alternative policy tools for encouraging farm afforestation in Ireland
    To encourage Irish farmers to afforest agricultural land, a premium scheme supporting such planting was implemented in 1989 and afforestation targets outlined in 1996. In the period from 1996 to 2009, however, only half of the targeted area was planted although the income of many farmers would have improved on joining the scheme. A multi-method study was undertaken looking at farmers' decision-making with regard to afforestation under the scheme. In this paper we focus on one particular element of the study, which is about identifying policy tools that best match farmers' behaviour with regard to afforestation. Based on previous work, which we undertook on farmers' goals and values with regard to afforestation and which was presented in this journal, a postal survey was designed and distributed in spring 2012 to farmers all over Ireland. The results indicate that the majority of those surveyed do not make their decision to afforest based on profit maximisation goals. Offering only an incentive tool - such as the current premium scheme - will not be sufficient to encourage those farmers to plant trees. Additionally capacity tools such as group plantings of neighbouring fields and symbolic tools such as information and PR- or image-building campaign should be deployed to further encourage afforestation by farmers.
      604Scopus© Citations 61
  • Publication
    Factors influencing Irish farmers’ afforestation intentions
    The natural conditions in Ireland have a positive influence on tree growth as the mean annual increment is twice as high as that in mainland Europe. However, due to centuries of resource exploitation and the expansion of agricultural land the isl¬¬and’s has the second lowest forest cover in the EU. An increased forest cover would encourage the establishment of a range of processing industries and thus support necessary economic development in rural areas. Furthermore through farm afforestation farmers are given the opportunity to diversify their businesses, as market output of the majority of cattle and sheep farms in Ireland often does not cover the production cost. To increase the forest cover, the government in the 1990s introduced a scheme supporting farm afforestation, which is encouraged through premium payments that are high enough to make forestry more profitable than the majority of drystock farming. Afforestation targets, however, have not been met and previous studies have failed to offer a consistent explanation for the shortfall in planting rates. Thus, the objective of this work was to identify the factors influencing farmers’ afforestation decision. More specifically the study aimed at identifying the combined effect of structural, socio-demographic and attitudinal factors on the probability to plant. Based on previous findings from in-depth interviews with Irish farmers’ about their goals and values regarding farming and afforestation, a postal survey was conducted in Spring 2012 including question on farm structure and socio-demographic variables as well as questions on reasons for planting/not planting. The data was analysed using logistic regression. The developed logit model showed that while profit goals did not significantly influence the decision-making with regard to farm afforestation, structural as well as attitudinal factors played a vital role in this process. This was identified as one reason as to why the current incentive scheme failed to deliver the outlined afforestation targets. Other policy tools are needed in addition to the incentives to further encourage afforestation.
      775Scopus© Citations 31