Arable land in Switzerland harbours low biodiversity and lacks permanent species-rich structures. To remedy this situation,improved field margins(IFMs)will be introduced as a new ecological compensation type in the Swiss Lowlands. IFMs are extensively managed, sown species- and flower-rich vegetation strips which provide both habitats for a wide range of species and valuable structures for the ecological
network. However, the success of ecological compensation measures depends strongly on their acceptance by farmers and the general public. In summer 2004, we investigated in a case study the attitudes of 108 Swiss people to IFMs directly in the field. Study participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of IFMs of different species richness and composition that were presented to them, to explain their rating and to estimate the number of species present. In addition, they were asked to imagine a field margin of their particular liking, to describe it, and to state their opinion on several aspects of IFMs. Study participants responded very positively to species-rich vegetation. The more species-rich an IFM was perceived to be, the more it appealed to them. Species richness and general diversity were named as the main reasons for a positive rating. Study participants strongly approved the establishment of improved field margins. The positive rating and high acceptance of IFMs in this study indicate that they may be a successful new tool for biodiversity enhancement in intensively used agricultural landscapes.