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


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Europe’s wood pastures: condemned to a slow death by the CAP?
A test case for EU agriculture and biodiversity policy

Policy seminar, 17 November 2015, 14.30-16.30, room ASP 3E2, European Parliament, Brussels

Hosts: Csaba Sógor from Romania of the EPP, Clara Aguilera from Spain of S&D and Catherine Bearder from the UK of ALDE

Speakers presentations: see the programme below or watch the video of the event

Sheep grazing in a traditional dehesa with evergreen oaks

Sheep grazing in a traditional dehesa with evergreen oaks

Not all pastures are just grass. In some regions of Europe, pastures are enriched by more diverse vegetation, including shrubs and trees, which provide additional forage for livestock and numerous environmental benefits. Ranging from grazed woodlands with complete tree canopy to grasslands scattered with irreplaceable ancient trees, these wood pastures are among the most valuable types of farmland for public goods.

Trees and shrubs provide several ecosystem services in wood pastures, from provisioning services (forage, fruits, firewood) to regulating services (erosion control, carbon storage, beneficial effects on biodiversity) and cultural services (traditional landscapes, aesthetic beauty).The exceptional environmental value of wood pastures is confirmed by the classification of some types as Habitats of Community Interest in Annex 1 of the EU Habitats Directive. And these habitats require livestock grazing for their conservation.

Goats browsing wild olive wood pastures

Goats browsing wild olive wood pastures

Wood pastures are genuine, productive farming landscapes, but the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) discriminates against them, as they are neither pure grasslands nor forests. The designers and managers of the CAP in the European Commission treat trees and shrubs on pastures simplistically as signs of land abandonment, or of non-productive farming, making it more difficult for this farmland to receive CAP direct payments. This is incentivising farmers to remove the trees and shrubs that make wood pastures so special and valuable, or to convert them to forestry use, or to abandon the pastures altogether.

This situation runs against the aims of EU environmental policies, especially the Biodiversity Strategy, and makes a mockery of the new “greener” vision for the CAP. The system is also highly bureaucratic and costly. It is very clear that more work is needed to improve and simplify the policy details and implementation of CAP rules for pastures with trees. If this is not done urgently, the CAP may be condemning wood pastures to irreversible changes and a slow death.

Hosted by three MEPs, this seminar in the European Parliament in Brussels on 17th November presented case studies and discussed the effects of European policy on these treasures of the landscape, recommending policy changes to ensure their active management and conservation.

All presentations available below for download.


14.00 External visitors check in through Parliament security
14.30 Welcome to the event: SÓGOR Csaba MEP, RO

Scene setting chaired by SÓGOR Csaba MEP, RO

14.35 The importance of Europe’s wood pastures – Ted GREEN, Ancient Tree Forum
14.45 EU policies for wood pastures – Guy BEAUFOY, European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism

Member State case studies chaired by Clara AGUILERA MEP, ES

15.00 Romania – Tibor HARTEL, Sapientia University Cluj Napoca and Pogány-havas Association
15.15 Sweden – Peter EINARSSON, Farmer and Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
15.30 Spain – Álvaro PICARDO, Technical Advisor to General Director in Natural Environment, Regional Government of Castilla y León

Policy messages chaired by Catherine BEARDER MEP, UK

15.45 New CAP better or worse? – Trees ROBIJNS, BirdLife Europe
16.00 Christina BORCHMANN, Director, Unit J (Audit of Agricultural Expenditure), DG AGRI
16.15 Debate – representative(s) of the European Commission and audience questions

16.30 Closing remarks SÓGOR Csaba MEP

The Seminar was followed by a light reception for participants to discuss further.

Organized by the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, Pogány-havas Association and BirdLife Europe.

With the financial support of SÓGOR Csaba MEP, Clara AGUILERA MEP, Remarkable Trees of Romania, British Ecological Society Forest Ecology Group, Royal Society of Biology, DG ENV (European Commission), Trashumancia y Naturaleza, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and Arcadia Fund.

Opinions expressed on this website or during this event do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission or of other funders.

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Date: 2024/07/19
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