The German „Serengeti“ – large-scale grazing with Heck-cattle in Thuringia


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Semi-natural Pastures and Meadows - A golden thread through EU environmental and agricultural policies

POLICY SEMINAR: 13th November, 2012 - First Euroflat Hotel, Boulevard Charlemagne 50, 1000 Brussels

The importance of uncultivated grasslands is increasingly recognised. This broadly-defined category of land covers self-seeded herbaceous and scrub vegetation that is used for livestock grazing and/or mowing (i.e. pastures and meadows), and is also known as semi-natural grassland. These grasslands cover approximately a quarter of all EU farmland.

Semi-natural grasslands are the most important farmland for a range of EU policies, including biodiversity, climate change, soil, ecosystem services and green infrastructure. A greener CAP that is focused on public goods should recognise the importance of semi-natural grasslands, and give them special attention.

However, at present the CAP does not recognise the existence of semi-natural grasslands, lumping them alongside cultivated grasslands (ploughed and sown) in the single category of "permanent pastures". Despite their special characteristics and environmental importance, there is no specific category for semi-natural grasslands, no specific cross-compliance requirements, and no mention of them in the proposed greening mechanisms.

In fact, with the move to hectare payments and the introduction of new payment eligibility rules linked to vegetation types, the CAP has become increasingly biased against semi-natural grasslands by penalising characteristics that are typical of them, such as a high proportion of shrubs, trees and other landscape features. The seminar heard examples from Germany and Denmark. For semi-natural grasslands, there is a clear absence of joined-up EU policy, with the CAP apparently being in conflict with a range of environmental goals, rather than supporting them. Though the CAP aims to support 'multi-functional' agriculture, integration with other policy goals is notably absent for the farmland type which best encapsulates this multi-functionality.

This seminar, held in collaboration with the German Association for Landcare (DVL) considered how to correct these deficiencies in the CAP, in relation to:

  • Definitions of permanent pasture
  • Eligibility rules for CAP direct payments, including "minimum activity"
  • The pros and cons of identifying and registering semi-natural grasslands on the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS)
  • The possibility of specific cross-compliance and greening rules for semi-natural grasslands, as an integrated policy approach supporting environmental Directives

The Romanian example illustrates how vital an integrated approach involving LPIS is in reality. In Northern Ireland, an approach to agri-environment implementation involving a combination of remote sensing and desk-based advice is being used as a more cost-effective alternative to the old farm visit methodology, suggesting that the difficulties posed by the wide range of permanent grasslands in the Atlantic zone can be overcome. Slovakia - not one of the richest Member States - has been able not only to inventorise its grasslands, but to make the link to LPIS work and to integrate this dataset into a working agri-environment scheme.


Morning - chair: Brendan Dunford, EFNCP & Burren Farming for Conservation Programme

Session 1: Setting the scene
0915 Welcome and aims for the day - chair
0920 Europe's semi-natural meadows and pastures - Carsten Hobohm, Flensburg University
0945 Trends in state of pasture and meadows and characteristic species and how to improve data and understanding - Sue Collins, EFNCP and Butterfly Conservation Europe
1015 Beyond nature policy - semi-natural grassland and wider public goods - Gwyn Jones, EFNCP
1045 Discussion
1100 Coffee break
Session 2: Better policies, better implementation: country case studies in recognising and identifying semi-natural pastures and meadows
1120 Regulation and inspection examples of grassland and natural areas in Denmark - Heidi Buur Holbeck, Agricultural Knowledge Centre
1130 Pillar 2 implementation in Denmark - Annita Svendsen, Danish Nature Agency
1140 Making Direct Payments work for semi-natural habitats in Germany - Jürgen Metzner, DVL
1200 Commission approach to permanent pasture rules and their implementation - Andreas Lillig, DG Agri
1220 The view from Parliament - Andrzej Nowakowski, Advisor to Green/EFA Group, European Parliament
1240 Discussion
1300 Lunch
1400 Agri-environment subsidies for semi-natural grasslands in Romania - Inge Paulini, Mozaic Association and Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität Bonn
1420 Identifying semi-natural grasslands on LPIS under agri-environment implementation: the Northern Ireland experience - Patrick McGurn, EFNCP
1440 Integration of semi-natural grasslands on LPIS making for improved policy delivery in Slovakia: successes and challenges - Dobromil Galvánek
1500 Semi-natural pastures - an integrated policy please! - Guy Beaufoy, EFNCP
1530 Discussion
1600 Close

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European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Date: 2016/10/26
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