Including the social dimension in agrienvironmental landscape indicators: data and scale issues

Authors and Affiliations: 

P.J. Jones 4, Paracchini M.L.1, Capitani C. 1, A.M. Schmidt 2, E. Andersen3, D.M. Wascher2,

R. Simoncini 5, S. Carvalho Ribeiro 6, G.H. Griffiths 4, S. R. Mortimer 4,

L. Madeira 6, I. Ramos 7 and T. Pinto Correia 6


1 Joint Research Centre, European Commission, Institute for Environment and Sustainability

2 Alterra Wageningen UR, The Netherlands

3 University of Kopenhagen, Denmark

4 University of Reading, United Kingdom

5 University of Florence, Italy

6 University of Evora, Portugal


The need to monitor the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at the scale of the European Union has led to the definition of a set of agri-environmental indicators published in the COM (2006) 508 “Development of agri-environmental indicators for monitoring the integration of environmental concerns into the common agricultural policy”. The aim of the framework is to provide information to assess the interaction between the CAP and the environment and tracks farm management practices, agricultural production systems, pressures and risks to the environment and the state of natural resources.

However, the social dimension embedded in the agricultural landscapes is barely addressed in this indicator set. In order to include the social dimensions into the state and diversity of the agrarian landscape indicator, the societal appreciation dimension was developed. The aim of the paper is to illustrate both the conceptual and empirical efforts carried out in order to include the social dimension in the agri-environmental indicator set. Besides describing structure and degree of naturalness of the landscape, it was deemed necessary to include a component on the societal appreciation of the agrarian landscape, to: (i) monitor how society protects valuable landscapes that are considered as a common resource; (ii) how society uses and enjoys the natural capital providing a recreational service; and (iii) how certified products are representative of specific traditional landscapes (Paracchini and Capitani, 2011).

This approach involves the assumption that the three societal reactions to the landscape issue listed above can be assessed on the basis of existing data, but also that the indicator structure is sufficiently robust to capture regional dynamics.

An in-depth analysis has been carried out to verify how the level of detail required to illustrate societal appreciation changes across scales, by downscaling the methodology from the EU to the regional scale (Paracchini et al., 2010; Paracchini et al., 2012). This has provided an opportunity to identify gaps in data and methods and to send feedback to the EU scale assessment.

The paper focus on the downscaling process in five European regions, also on the possibility of including complementary elements describing societal dynamics that become visible at lower levels of governance than the EU, and on a comparison of cross-scale results.


Paracchini M.L., Pinto Correia T., Ramos I.L. and Capitani, C. (2010) Indicators to assess rural landscape valuation: how and what is measured at different levels of governance. In: Bandecchi & Vivaldi (Eds.) (2010) Proceedings of the conference “Living Landscape – The European Landscape Convention in research perspective”, Florence, 18-19 October, 2010.

Paracchini M.L. and Capitani, C. (2011)  Implementation of a EU wide indicator for the rural-agrarian landscape - In support of COM(2006)508 “Development of agri-environmental indicators for monitoring the integration of environmental concerns into the Common Agricultural Policy”. EUR 25114 EN. Publications Office of the European Union. 88 pp.

Paracchini, M.L.,  Capitani, C., Schmidt, A.M., Andersen, E., Wascher, D.M., Jones, P.J.,  Simoncini, R., Carvalho Ribeiro, S., Griffiths, G.H., Mortimer, S.R., Madeira, L., Loupa Ramos I. and Pinto Correia, T. (2012) Measuring societal awareness of the rural agrarian landscape: indicators and scale issues. EUR 25192 EN. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. 130 pp.