On our way to a sustainable agricultural transition or lock-in? The potential of food forestry in the Netherlands as a sustainable alternative

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Increasing food production in a conventional way takes its toll on the natural environment. Therefore, an agricultural transition is needed. Food forestry, promoted as environmentally sound nature-inclusive farming practices, is a method where nature and agriculture go hand in hand. Although food forests played an important role in European farming in the past, it is now considered a radical innovation. This study seeks to identify the main enabling and constraining factors of food forestry and its potential fit in the Dutch sustainable agricultural transition. The multi-level perspective (MLP) framework by Geels with integration of the synoptic view on governance by Steurer are used as a tool to analyse the transition with a governance perspective. Detailed insights are obtained by conducting a qualitative case study by means of desk research, case- and expert interviews and participatory observations. The findings illustrate both ‘motivation’ and ‘networks and collaborations’ as enablers of food forestry and its journey to become part of a new regime. However, ‘opposition to regime change’ and ‘lack of financial incentives’ appear to be highly constraining, to a degree where there is barely room for food forestry in the current regime. For now, only slight nature-inclusive adjustments within the current sector seem within reach.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen