Management agreements

These are contracts between public authorities or conservation organizations and landowners that undertake to manage their land in a specified way in return for periodic payments or a lump sum. If management agreements run with the land and contain positive obligations then they are particularly useful for the long-term conservation of areas rich in biodiversity.

Alternatively, management agreements may take the form of personal contracts with the land-owner that are concluded for a relatively short period of time. These instruments are increas-ingly used to promote extensive agriculture and the conservation of landscape features and semi-natural habitats. Farmers may enter into agreements whereby they are paid to manage their land according to ecological criteria. The system, originally limited to designated Envi-ronmentally Sensitive Areas, is now applicable in the whole of the territory of the member states. Similar systems have been developed in several countries outside the European Union, such as Sweden.

Another type of management agreement is Countryside Stewardship, developed in the United Kingdom, which aims to combine conservation and public enjoyment of land with commer-cial land management through a national system of incentives. The scheme is not area-specific, nor is it restricted to farmers. Proposals for the management, restoration or re-creation of specified categories of habitats or landscape features are screened, and only the best from an environmental point of view are retained. Agreements run for ten years and a sliding scale of premiums is paid per hectare, depending on the complexity of the conserva-tion obligations involved.