For this paper, we reviewed the history, current use, and effectiveness of AES as a conservation tool in Europe. We considered the conceptual framework that has been developed to interpret the ecological findings and the implications of research on the human factors that influence farmer uptake or acceptance of the schemes. We conducted 2 new meta‐analyses to determine whether AES are becoming more effective over time and whether changing management in productive or non‐productive areas benefits biodiversity. We also identified outstanding policy‐relevant research questions that cannot currently be answered using formal meta‐analysis, due to data deficiency. Finally, we considered what can be learned about the use and cost‐effectiveness of AES from the European experience.


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