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International Conference „Using Evaluation to Enhance the Rural Development Value of Agri-Environmental Measures“

Time: 17-19 June 2008

Location: Estonia, Pärnu  

The growth of interest in the effective evaluation of agricultural policies has been increasingly obvious amongst policy-makers and others for many years. This interest is likely to increase further as the CAP comes under considerable scrutiny during the EU budget review and fundamental questions are asked about the rationale for financial support to agriculture and rural development.

In recent years there has been particular criticism of agri-environment schemes regarding their value for money and effectiveness in achieving environmental targets. Although such schemes have been applied in the EU-15 for long enough to draw lessons from their design and implementation, we still face the problem of so-called „non-productive or insufficient measures” in many Rural Development Programmes (RDPs).

At the same time it is also clear that agri-environment measures present significant evaluation challenges including the fact that it is very difficult to disentangle the impact of specific agri-environment measures from all of the various policy driving forces acting upon the relationship between agriculture and the environment.

Purpose of the event: The aim of the conference was to bring together a range of stakeholders with an active interest in making more efficient and effective use of evaluation within the rural development policy-making cycle, notably regarding the evaluation of agri-environment measures.

According to the initial feedback from people interested to participate in the conference, three main themes relating to evaluation were identified as a priority:

  • Changing trends in agricultural policy, including improved understanding of the linkages between rural policies, farm practices and environmental outcomes in the context of the 2007–2013 programming period;
  • The tools and methods available for the evaluation of agri-environment measures implemented in the 2000–2006 and 2007–2013 programming period;
  • Identifying those evaluation tools most useful for improving the integration of biodiversity conservation into agri-environment measures, particularly for the support of High Nature Value (HNV) farming systems.

At the end of the meeting it is hoped that all participants will have a more complete understanding of the importance of evaluation and a commitment to make better use of the evaluation process. Evaluators working with the ex-post evaluation of RDPs under the 2000–2006 programme will be encouraged to be more open and critical about the shortcomings of rural policy, whilst policy-makers will take the necessary steps towards using evaluation results more effectively to continue improving the new 2007–2013 RDPs.

Target groups: Governmental officials responsible for the elaboration and implementation of agri-environment and other rural development measures, plus the independent evaluators and experts used for RDP evaluation.


  • The Estonian Agricultural Research Centre
  • The Estonian Ministry of Agriculture
  • In co-operation with the following partners from Finland:
    • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
    • Ministry of Environment
    • University of Helsinki

The conference was co-financed by the European Union and Estonian government under the Technical Assistance measure of the 2007–2013 Rural Development Plan for Estonia.



Conference Proceedings


17 June:

Perspectives on Agri-environment Evaluation in Estonia Pille Koorberg

The Evolution of the Principles and Practice of Agri-environment Evaluation Clunie Keenleyside

The Challenges of Effectively Using Evaluation to Re-formulate Agri-environment Policy Tarja Haaranen

Evaluating Public Goods – Concepts and Challenges Martin Scheele

Why do We Need a New RDP Evaluation System for 2007-2013? Guido Castellano

Evaluating the Impacts of RD Programmes. The Application of the HNV Impact Indicator Tamsin Cooper

Future CAP: Public Money for Public Goods Kaley Hart

Why Nature Conservation Needs a Reformed CAP for 2013+ - role of environmental networks Karin Robinet

Does the CAP Need New and Specific Measures to Support HNV Farming? Guy Beaufoy

Experiences of Agri-Environment in the UK Louise Cavender

Structure and Environmental Impacts of AEM in Germany (a Case Study) Karin Reiter, Wolfgang Roggendorf

AE evaluation – Challenges for New Member States (Estonian Case Study) Iiri Selge

The Use of Data on HNV Farmland and HNV Farming Systems for Policy Evaluation Jan-Erik Petersen

High Nature Value Farming Systems in Italy: an Economic perspective Andrea Povellato, Antonella Trisorio

HNV Farmland in Germany – A Sample Approach for Monitoring and Evaluation Rainer Oppermann

The Future of Funding for Farmland Biodiversity in the EU Martin Farmer

Payment Calculations and Biodiversity Targets in Agri-environment Measures: Experiences from Scotland Gerald Schwarz

Evaluating the Environmental Performance of Farms in Regionally Adaptive and Participatory Ways Karlheinz Knickel

Evaluation of RDPs in Italy: Lessons Learned from 2000-2006 Alessandro Monteleone

Review of Tools and Methods Available for Evaluation of Agri-environment Measures (2000-2006 and 2007-2013) Elisabeth Schwaiger

Experiences with a Baseline Indicator (Farmland Bird Index) in Latvia Oskars Keišs

On-going Work with the HNV Farming Concept in Sweden Martin Sjödahl

Experiences of Developing HNV Indicators in England Keith Porter

Identification of High Nature Value Farmland Using Statistical Information and Farm Practice Surveys. An Example in France Maria-Luisa Paracchini

18 June:

Field visits: semi-natural habitats in Mätiku Farm (additional material), Tarvamäe Farm and Kurese Village

19 June:

Evaluating Agri-Environmental Policies: Lessons Learned and Challenges Ahead Wilfrid Legg
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