In agricultural landscapes farmers have a large impact on biodiversity through the management decisions they apply to their land. Farmers' perceptions of biodiversity and its different values influence their willingness to apply biodiversity friendly farming practices. The results of a discourse-based, deliberative biodiversity valuation are presented in this paper. Organic and conventional farmers' perceptions of the different values of biodiversity were analyzed across three European countries. Focus group methodology was used to explore how farmers perceive biodiversity and how they assess its values.Our results suggest that farmers' perceptions of biodiversity are strongly embedded in their everyday lives and linked to farming practices. Besides recognizing the importance of species and habitat diversity, farmers also acknowledge wider landscape processes and attach value to the complexity of ecological systems. Organic farmers tended to have a more complex and philosophical approach to biodiversity and they were relatively homogeneous in this aspect, while conventional farmers showed larger heterogeneity. Ethical and social values were important for all farmers. Economic value was more dominant in the conventional focus groups.The discourse based deliberative valuation method is worth applying in relation to biodiversity for two reasons. First, this method is able to reflect the heterogeneity of non-scientist participants and the context in which they are embedded, which both have a great impact on the results of the valuation. Second, deliberation upon the importance of biodiversity makes possible to understand the competing perceptions of biodiversity and to include different value aspects in the valuation process. The policy oriented consequence of the research can be drawn from the observation that farmers have a strong acknowledgement of ethical and social biodiversity values. This suggests that soft policy tools could also foster biodiversity sensitive farming methods, complementary to mainstream monetary incentives. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
- Conventional farming
- Discourse-based deliberative valuation
- Focus group
- Organic farming