EFNCP in the 2015 edition of Green Week
3-5 June 2015, Brussels
The Green Week is the biggest annual conference on European environment policy, with over 3000 participants in 2014. In 2015, the Forum was invited to take part in Session 4.2: the support of the Common Agricultural Policy for nature-based tourism, which was organised in collaboration with DG AGRI.
We contributed to this session by presenting several examples of nature-based tourism related to pastoralism and analysing to what extent the CAP is giving support to these HNV livestock systems. Our focus was on Spain, where we had run a survey in collaboration with the Plataforma por la Ganadería Extensiva y el Pastoralismo to explore some of the existing tourism-pastoralism initiatives. The first results of this survey have already been published online in Spanish, and were summarised in the slideshow presented at the Green Week session.
The speaker on this occasion was Jabier Ruiz, our Network and Communications coordinator, who is also founding member and facilitator of the Plataforma. To illustrate how important CAP support is to maintain HNV farming, he presented the example of an organic farmer from south-eastern Spain who offers some tourism activities. This farmer works in a (less-favoured) dry mountainous area, where she runs a sheep-cereal-almond farm while participating in a wildfire prevention programme and tutoring students from the regional shepherd school. CAP support for this farm with 700 sheep, 100 ha of cultivated land and several hundreds of hectares of pastureland is approximately € 40 000 per year, with roughly half of the amount linked to specific commitments (e.g., grazing fuelbreaks for fire prevention) and agri-environment measures (organic farming, crop rotation).
This case is a relatively good example of the CAP helping preserve HNV farming activities and landscapes, which in turn makes it possible to offer some tourism activities linked to the farm, its livestock products and local traditions.
However, although support from the CAP is vital for most farms offering ecotourism activities, this does not mean that CAP support is always implemented in a manner or scale which is appropriate to the needs of HNV farms.
For instance, one of the main threats for the viability of the farm described are the recent restrictions on the eligibility of scrubby and wood pastures for CAP direct payments: in fact, half of the area this farmer uses for grazing is considered non-eligible under the rules currently being proposed in Spain based on guidance from Brussels. This is a widespread and major problem: the new “green” CAP is in direct conflict with environmental priorities in silvo-pastoral systems.
And beyond this crucial Pillar 1 issue, Pillar 2 currently does very little to support extensive grazing in Spain. Measures are very few and far between. More ambitious and appropriate Rural Development Programmes are needed: thematic sub-programmes adapted to the needs of extensive livestock farming would be ideal, but properly designed and fully implemented second pillar measures could also be instrumental in giving the right support to HNV farms (e.g., Natura 2000 payments, agri-environment-climate measures, targeted less-favoured area payments, etc.). At present, farmers in most Natura 2000 sites in Spain get no benefits from these designations, only restrictions on their activities.
Another speaker in the session also reflected on HNV farming, focussing on the touristic Allgäu region in Alpine Germany. Stefan Pscherer presented some of the projects he is helping develop in the region, many related to restoring HNV farming practices and beautiful productive landscapes. You may see his presentation in this link.