Measures of the EU Agri-Environmental Protection Scheme (GAEPS) and Their Impacts on the Visual Acceptability of Finnish Agricultural Landscapes

J Environ Manage. 2002 Nov;66(3):213-27.


As a member of the European Union, Finland has committed itself to creating an environmental policy for agriculture. The aims of this study were to evaluate visual impacts of the General Agri-Environmental Protection Scheme (GAEPS) and Supplementary Protection Scheme (SPS) and general attitudes towards some activities in those policies and furthermore to examine the suitability of the method of Alho et al. (2001) for the scenic beauty assessment. The study areas consisted of three original, untreated, and 15 modified rural landscapes representing a variety of different activities. The scenic beauty of the landscapes was evaluated through pairwise comparisons of the responses of 68 people. Furthermore, attitudes towards environmental values, water protection, buffer strips and subsidies to agriculture were obtained. The respondents found the maintained buffer strips more pleasing than unmaintained strips and considered that the quality of watercourses was increased by buffer strips along them. A suitable width for the buffer strip along main ditches, brooks and waterways was regarded, on average, to be wider than the current recommendations. Although the opinions of farmers were basically in line with the existing recommendations, farmers' opininons on the second and third most important effects of buffer strips, an increase in weeds and a decrease in cultivated land, clearly differed from those of the other respondents. Afforestation, lack of building maintenance and abandoned fields were considered to be the most important factors impacting rural landscapes. This study indicates that the Finnish Agri-Environmental Protection Schemes have had positive impacts on the visual quality of landscapes. Attitudes towards other impacts are contradictory. This study also showed the improvement of the Alho et al. (2001) method in these kinds of studies relative to other methods of pairwise comparisons.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Data Collection
  • Environment*
  • Esthetics
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Water Supply