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