Keywords: erosion, coordination, geographical proximity, runoff, Upper Normandy, France, collective action, farming, agriculture
The determinants of local collective action on erosive runoff. An analysis of farmers' geographical proximities in Upper Normandy, France
Runoff disregards territorial boundaries, affects farmers as well as other users of space, and necessitates collective action if it is to be combatted. In this article, based on the case of Upper-Normandy, we show that geographical proximity can play a determining role in the struggle against erosive runoff, and we present a new tool for analysing relations of proximity between farmers. First, we use three examples to show that farmers have only limited knowledge of the problem of erosion and are largely incapable of carrying out concerted collective action. That is why Syndicats de basins versants were set up to provide organised proximity. Then we present a new tool for analysing relations of geographical proximity between farmed land and farmsteads, in order to assess the possibilities of coordination between farmers within catchment areas. Our results, based on the characterisation of 1409 communes, clearly show that long distances, the size of farmed agricultural land and the high number of external farmers constitute major obstacles to the creation of ad hoc cooperative processes.