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Europe's hay meadows in decline - what are we losing and what can we do?
A test case for EU agriculture and biodiversity policy

European Parliament, Brussels, 8 November 2012; European Parliament, Brussels, 8 November 2012


Gergely Rodics (PH), Csaba Sogor MEP, Rebecca Barrett (N Pennines AONB), Guy Beaufoy (EFNCP) and Gwyn Jones (EFNCP)

Gergely Rodics (PH), Csaba Sogor MEP, Rebecca Barrett (N Pennines AONB), Guy Beaufoy (EFNCP) and Gwyn Jones (EFNCP).

Introduction

At the smaller scales, semi-natural grasslands - those which are managed by farmers - are the most biodiverse plant habitats on Earth, and many of the world record locations are in Europe. Traditionally managed hay meadows full of flowers, insects and other animal life are among the most biodiverse places in Europe and a source of joy, inspiration and beauty to all. They are a living part of our shared culture and heritage. They provide many environmental, social and economic benefits. They are protected by EU policy and subsidies. Yet they continue to disappear, through abandonment, intensification or conversion to other uses. This policy seminar discussed how European institutions can protect these treasures and support the farmers who manage them more effectively.

Hay meadows fit well with the EU's 2020 priorities - they offer resource efficiency, a low-carbon economy and inclusive jobs in marginalised communities. EU biodiversity targets (both for habitats and species and ecosystem services) mean that we MUST halt hay-meadow decline.

In fact, hay meadows are good "miners' canaries" of High Nature Value farming:

The miner's canary depends on the
miner, but is more sensitive than him
to changes which threaten them both.
  • They are clearly part of the cultural landscape and understandable by farmers, policy makers and the public
  • They are of undoubted biodiversity importance
  • They are generally in poor condition and under great threat
  • They are one of the first things to change

EU has agreed the aims and provides the instruments - but not all countries are delivering. The seminar gave the example of Romania, which has a commendable and ambitious scheme for HNV grasslands, but one which needs both extending and to be better adapted for hay meadows. But other Member States are lagging far behind in using the tools provided by the EU to pursue EU priorities e.g. Spain has vast areas of HNV farming and hay meadows, but has very limited agri-environment schemes for them.

The EU institutions and governance systems do not ensure consistent effort to deliver EU priorities, or best practice - a situation which makes a mockery of EU goals and institutions. Agri-environment schemes are essential but not enough - we also need measures to support the farming systems and economy and in this context local projects make a crucial difference - they multiply the benefits of top-down schemes.

Post 2013 we must

  • Continue to transfer funds from Pillar 1 to agri-environment
  • Have agri-environment schemes which are better adapted and supported by other measures, including local projects funded by Pillar 2
  • Put in place rigorous ex ante evaluations for Priority 4 (Natura 2000 and HNV farming), and measures that are a response proportionate to the identified needs
  • Put in place rigorous ex ante evaluations for Priority 4 (Natura 2000 and HNV farming), and measures that are a response proportionate to the identified needs

To measure policy effects we need monitoring systems using sample surveys of:

  • Extent and condition of hay meadows
  • Farming systems and practices

All countries should already be doing this under the Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF) for Pillar 2, but most are not doing it; from 2013, the indicators will apply to the whole CAP, so it becomes even more important that they are implemented.

Video message from Prince Charles

The importance of Europe's hay meadows - Video message from Prince Charles

Programme and presentations

9.30 Welcome to the event: SÓGOR Csaba MEP, RO
Scene setting
9.35 The importance of Europe's hay meadows - Video message from HRH the Prince of Wales
9.45 Hay meadows – touchstones of HNV farming? - Gwyn JONES, European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, UK
Member State case studies
10.00 Romania: RODICS Gergely, Pogány-havas Association, RO
10.15 England: Rebecca BARRETT, North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, UK [(Script)]
Policy messages
10.30 The role and responsibility of the food industry - Giovanni MALFATTI, Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, Brussels
10.45 Policy synthesis - Guy BEAUFOY, European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, Spain
11.00 Close
poster-hay-meadowsDownload Poster

With the support of SÓGOR Csaba MEP, DG Environment and the Society of Biology UK.


 
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European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Online: http://www.efncp.org/events/seminars-others/hay-meadows-2012/
Date: 2016/07/24
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