BIOGEA - Testing BIOdiversity Gain of European Agriculture with CAP greening

Tractor plowing a field at dusk

The intensification of agriculture and the conversion of semi-natural areas to cropland are considered as serious threats to biodiversity in Europe. In both cases, so-called Green and Blue Infrastructure (GBI), considered necessary for the survival of biodiversity in an agricultural landscape, disappears. GBI includes for example, hedges, water meadows, field margins and woodland which ensure connectivity between natural and semi-natural habitats. The last reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should in theory ensure the provision of GBI throughout the agricultural landscape through “Greening” (the introduction of compulsory agri-environment requirements for all those receiving CAP support).

The project BIOGEA investigates the extent to which „Greening“ has positive effects on GBI and how GBI in European agricultural landscapes can be linked and supported to maintain and improve the conditions for biodiversity. Across Europe, there is still considerable variation in farming intensity from extensive “High Nature Value” farming systems to highly intensive or industrial agriculture. Nonetheless, the available “Greening” measures are the same for all systems. It is still unclear what effects the measures will have on these different systems

The planned analysis, led by adelphi, will be carried out both vertically (on different governance levels from EU-wide to local) and horizontally (comparisons between what occurs in example regions in three EU member states). Through case studies in Germany, Spain and Bulgaria, the following aspects will be examined:

  1. The agricultural and environmental targets of the EU (in particular the CAP)
  2. The national frameworks for the implementation of these targets in the three member states
  3. The actual implementation and advice provision in six example regions (one intensive and one HNV in each member state).

An additional aim will be to further develop existing biodiversity indicator sets in order to facilitate the examination of the impacts of land use change and further global change drivers (such as climate change and water quality and availability) on GBI and the linked ecosystem services. Modelling is planned to estimate the likely future effects of the CAP on GBI and biodiversity.

The development and implementation of political instruments as well as guidance and tools for farmers and their advisors will be supported through the involvement of a 'Participatory Research Development Network' (PRDN). This will occur through a series of workshops, round tables, local learning laboratories and a final conference. adelphi leads the project and will carry out the research together with four further universities and research institutes.