Governing of Agro-Ecosystem Services
In this paper we incorporate interdisciplinary New Institutional and Transaction Costs Economics (combining Economics, Organization, Law, Sociology, Behavioral and Political Sciences), and suggest a framework for analysis of mechanisms of governance of agro-ecosystem services. Firstly, we present a new approach for analysis and improvement of governance of agro-ecosystem services. It takes into account the role of specific institutional environment (formal and informal rules, distribution of rights, systems of enforcement); and behavioral characteristics of individual agents (preferences, bounded rationality, opportunism, risk aversion, trust); and transactions costs associated with ecosystem services and their critical factors (uncertainty, frequency, asset specificity, appropriability); and comparative efficiency of market, private, public and hybrid modes of governance. Secondly, we identify spectrum of market and private forms of governance of agro-ecosystem services (voluntary initiatives; market trade with eco-products and services; special contractual arrangements; collective actions; vertical integration), and evaluate their efficiency and potential. Next, we identify needs for public involvement in the governance of agro-ecosystem services, and assess comparative efficiency of alternative modes of public interventions (assistance, regulations, funding, taxing, provision, partnership, property right modernization). Finally, we analyze structure and efficiency of governance of agro-ecosystems services in Zapadna Stara Planina – a mountainous region in North-West Bulgaria. Post-communist transition and EU integration has brought about significant changes in the state and governance of agro-ecosystems services. Newly evolved market, private and public governance has led to significant improvement of part of agro-ecosystems services introducing modern eco-standards and public support, enhancing environmental stewardship, desintensifying production, recovering landscape and traditional productions, diversifying quality, products, and services. At the same time, novel governance is associated with some new challenges such as unsustainable exploitation, lost biodiversity, land degradation, water and air contamination. What is more, implementation of EU common policies would have no desired impact on agro-ecosystem services unless special measures are taken to improve management of public programs, and extend public support to dominating small-scale and subsistence farms.
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