Valentin Cocco (PSAE)

Tuesday, May 2nd 2024

Valentin Cocco will present “Guilty or scapegoat? Land consolidation and the hedgerow decline”.



Land consolidation is a standard policy instrument which aims to reduce the fragmentation of farmland through spatial redistribution of land ownership. While the reform's primary goal was to improve agricultural productivity, its potential adverse effects on the landscape raise questions about its environmental sustainability. We investigate the landscape impact of the French consolidation program in the second half of the 20th century. Often blamed for the drastic decline of hedgerows observed in the countryside, social scientists discuss its responsibility. Using a staggered difference-in-differences strategy on a longitudinal survey in Lower Normandy, France (1972-2020), we bring the first causal evidence on this debate and show that consolidation decreased hedgerow density by -14.3m/ha (standard error: 2.36), which represents 17.6% of the total decline observed in consolidated municipalities. Our analyses also suggest a diminishing impact with the consolidation period and the time elapsed since consolidation, and an increasing impact with the initial hedgerow density. Our nuanced findings challenge the prevailing narrative that consolidation is the leading cause of the hedgerow decline and call for considering land consolidation in a broader context of political, social, and market drivers of landscape dynamics.

Modification date : 30 April 2024 | Publication date : 30 April 2024 | Redactor : Régis Grateau