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CAP Strategic Plans and conservation of Farmland Birds

Jun 22, 2023 | European Stakeholders

Author: Blanca Casares (AEIDL)

The commissioned study on analysis of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans in 10 Member States and their contribution to the conservation of Farmland Birds has been published on May 2023. The report has been prepared by Kerstin Sundseth of the N2K Group and Graham Tucker of the Institute for European Environmental Policy.

The study conceptualises the trend in the loss of biodiversity and common farmland birds due to changes in agrarian management.

Over the past 70 years, biodiversity has been in constant decline across Europe – especially in farmland – through the combined effects of intensification, specialisation, changing land use practices and the abandonment of remaining High Nature Value Farmland. This negative trend is mirrored amongst common farmland birds, for which the Farmland Bird Index monitors populations of common bird species that depend on EU farmland habitats.

The report then explains the supporting policy context and details the various CAP instruments and interventions linked to the conservation of these birds.

The increasingly urgent need to address the main drivers of biodiversity loss in Europe is now recognised at highest political level through the European Green Deal, the EU Farm to Fork Strategy and Biodiversity Strategy. In addition, the CAP has a key role to play in supporting biodiversity. Biodiversity has now been included as one of the new CAP’s ten strategic objectives linked to common EU goals for social, environmental, and economic sustainability in agriculture and rural areas.

The study is limited by the fact that it is based on an analysis of CAP Strategic Plans in 10 Member States only and that the contribution of GAEC and the SMRs to farmland birds was not explored.

Nevertheless, the study offers a snapshot of the situation having carried out an analysis of some 165 interventions (24 Ecoschemes, 104 Agri-environment-climate measures (AECMS), 8 Natura 2000 payments and 24 investments schemes) that identified Strategic Objective 6 – Biodiversity – as one of their objectives.

Main findings includes the following:

  • Ecoschemes (Article 31): 6% of schemes with SO6 as objective can be considered primarily focussed on farmland birds.
  • AECMS (Article 70): 10% of the schemes examined (12 schemes) can be considered to have farmland birds as their primary focus.
  • Natura 2000 payments (Article 72): overall, the 8 countries allocate less than 1% of their EAFRD allocation to these schemes.
  • Investments (Article 73/74): 1.5% of the total EAFRD allocation being allocated to biodiversity related investments.

As a general conclusion, it is said that it would be useful to examine all 27 countries to have a complete picture. It would also be useful to a more detailed assessment of both potential effectiveness for farmland birds and the percentage coverage of the farmland bird’s habitat.

Based on the findings of this study, it is clear that, despite the enhanced opportunities available for Farmland Birds under the new CAP (2023-2027) and that fact that the CAP is potentially the single most important source of EU fundings for farmland birds, these opportunities have not been sufficiently exploited.