/AnMtgsAbsts2009.52610 Using the Agri-Environmental Footprint Index (AFI) to Quantify the Environmental Quality Benefits of EU-Funded Agri-Environment Policy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009: 10:30 AM
Convention Center, Room 407, Fourth Floor

Geertrui Louwagie1, Gordon Purvis2, Greg Northey2 and John Finn3, (1)Agriculture and Life Sciences in the Economy, European Commission, Joint Res. Centre, Inst. for Prospective Technological Studies, Sevilla, Spain
(2)School of Biology and Environmental Science, Univ. College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland
(3)Environment Research Centre Johnstown Castle, Teagasc, Wexford, Ireland
The Agri-environmental Footprint Index (AFI) is a farm-scale index designed for evaluation of the environmental performance of farm management and the effectiveness of agri-environment policy.

The AFI conceptually describes any agri-environmental context in terms of three policy concerns (natural resources, biodiversity and landscape) that are addressable within three distinct management domains (crop and animal husbandry, physical farm infrastructure and (‘non-productive’) natural and cultural heritage). The resulting nine-dimensional matrix accommodates two essential building blocks of the AFI: an assessment criteria matrix and a subsequently derived indicator matrix.

The feasibility of the AFI method was tested in 15 European farming contexts. In Ireland, the AFI was quantified for small samples of farms under relatively intensive dairy farming in Co. Cork, and comparatively extensive dry-stock (beef/sheep) farming in Co. Sligo. Within each group, half of the farms had an agreement under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS).

Customised forms of the AFI for these contrasting contexts were created through an interactive process with stakeholders. Assessment criteria were largely defined on the basis of specified REPS objectives and contractual obligations, and appropriate indicators for evaluation of the specified criteria selected accordingly. Transformation functions were developed to map all indicator values onto a common scoring scale (0 to 10). Indicator functions integrating multiple indicator values into one indicator score were developed when a simple statistic was considered too simplistic. Technical specialists ensured the coherent structure and realistic quantification of such functions.

Stakeholders also assisted in weighting the perceived relative importance of the hierarchical index components (individual indicators within each matrix dimension, management domains and policy concerns). The AFI is calculated as a weighted sum of scores aggregated at each hierarchical level of the index. The presentation will illustrate how environmental benefits and costs to society were quantified while applying the AFI to the Irish cases.