Title: Enhancing the social content of environmental management systems in Australian agriculture

Authors: Genevieve Carruthers, Frank Vanclay

Addresses: New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, 1243 Bruxner Highway, Wollongbar NSW 2477, Australia. ' Tasmanian Institute for Agricultural Research, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 98, Hobart Tasmania 7001, Australia

Abstract: Despite criticism that Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) do not address social aspects, a review of the EMS implementation on Australian farms revealed that there were many social dimensions to the EMS. While these were not necessarily explicitly recognised by the farmers, certifiers and/or regulators, these social factors were very important to the ongoing commitment to, and operation of, the EMSs. Social factors enhance the operation of the EMS, reinforce initial motivations and have major benefits for the farm business. However, gaining recognition of these factors was difficult, measuring changes in social interactions not easily achievable and not well recognised or rewarded by outside stakeholders. The development of improved mechanisms for valuing social factors in agricultural contexts, better understanding of the roles of these factors amongst EMS certifiers and advisors, and more explicit acknowledgement of the importance of these factors on overall farm management is required.

Keywords: environmental management systems; EMS; ISO 14001; agriculture; farm management; social indicators; natural resource management; environmental protection; Australia; voluntary approach.

DOI: 10.1504/IJARGE.2007.012840

International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, 2007 Vol.6 No.3, pp.326 - 340

Published online: 18 Mar 2007 *

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