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Agriculture - Planting the seeds for sustainable farming and forestry
“Towards greater sustainable benefits from agri-environment schemes”

The problem

Since the mid-1980s, agricultural policy reform has increasingly incorporated an environmental dimension and large areas of Europe now participate in agri-environmental schemes (AES). The various national schemes reflect a wide diversity of priorities and the relative importance of the various components of agri-environmental quality. Member States are obliged to monitor and evaluate the environmental, agricultural and socio-economic effects of their respective schemes, but there is little consensus on how this should be done. Similarly, there are no agreed methodologies for ‘tracking’ the environmental consequences of changing agricultural practices.

FOOTPRINT  Evaluating EU agri-environment schemes


AE-FOOTPRINT will develop common methods and systems to assess the environmental performance of agri-environmental schemesin the framework of rural development programmes.

  • An Agri-environmental Footprint Index (AFI) will measure and compare the environmental effects of AESs
  • AFI scores will be used to measure and compare the environmental performance of participating and non-participating AES farms
  • The potential for using AFI as a wider policy tool will also be examined.
  • A feasibility analysis of the AFI will identify and prioritise any information gaps

Contribution to policy development:

  • EA-FOOTPRINT will provide a coherent research base that reflects the increasing integration of EU policies and the science that underpins them
  • It will bring about systematic improvements to the relationship between research and policy at all levels
  • The further development of standardised research methods and systems across the EU in relation to policy-related research

Project deliverables

  • Reports: evaluation of typical AES and formulating prototype AFI – May 2006; quantification of AES uptake – July 2006; AES Objectives across Member States – July 2006; impact model evaluation – November 2006; consultation with local stakeholder groups – February-April 2007
  • Annual project reports – May 2006/2007/2008
  • Reports: customised national versions of the AFI structure – July 2007; analysis of differential environmental impact of AES and non-AES farms – April 2008
  • Reports on the potential use of the AFI methodology to – June 2008
  • Final project report – May 2008


  • Update of project website – ongoing
  • Active involvement of local end-users and stakeholders during the process of AFI customisation – ongoing
  • Participation by project partners in workshops, seminars and other events within the EU to publicise the project – ongoing
  • Promotional literature, articles in the media, and submission of significant finding to peer-review journals – as needed

Technical information

Project acronym: AE-FOOTPRINT
Project’s official full title: Agri-environmental Footprint: Development of a common generic methodology for evaluating the effectiveness of European Agri-environmental Schemes
Research priority: 1.1. Modernisation and sustainability of agriculture and forestry, including their multifunctional role in order to ensure the sustainable development and promotion of rural areas
Specific webpage: Details not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 006491
Start date: 1 April 2005
Kick off meeting: April 2005
Completion date: March 2008
European Commission scientific officer: Massimo Burioni,

Dr Simon Mortimer
Name: Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, School of Agriculture Policy and
Development, the University of Reading
Abbreviated name: UREAD
Address: Centre for Agri-Environmental Research
School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, The University of Reading
Earley Gate, PO Box 237, Reading, RG6 6AR
Country: United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)118 378 8938
Fax: +44 (0)118 378 6067


Name: Department of Environmental Resource Management, National University of Ireland, Dublin
Abbreviated name: NUID UCD  
Country: Ireland

Name: Teagasc Environmental Research Centre, Johnstown Castle, Wexford
Abbreviated name: Teagasc
Country: Ireland

Name: Institute für ländliche Strukturforschung an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität Frankfurt
Abbreviated name: IfLS
Country: Germany

Name: Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University
Abbreviated name: KVL
Country: Denmark

Name: Institute of Environment and Landscape Management, Szent Istvan University
Abbreviated name: SIU-IELM
Country: Hungary

Name: Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Agricultural University of Athens
Abbreviated name: AUA
Country: Greece

Name: Economic Research, MTT Agri-food Research
Abbreviated name: MTT
Country: Finland