EU's CAP and its impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services  back to the theme

What are the effects of CAP greening measures on biodiversity and related ecosystem services?

Member: Florian Koch

Date: 10.03.2017




EKLIPSE is inviting scientists, policy makers, practitioners and other societal actors to share their knowledge on the effects of CAP greening measures on biodiversity and related ecosystem services. A literature screening exercise was done prior to the selection of the request and resulted in a compilation of research papers and reports related to the topic. We invite you to add any information that you think is relevant for the request, and justify its inclusion e.g. additional information from countries, scales or disciplinary perspectives not covered sufficiently etc…). Relevant information should be grouped under the following threads: literature reviews, empirical studies/practical experiences, modelling studies and conceptual papers. The full Call for Knowledge can be downloaded here

Please note of an ongoing survey, asking for inputs to a rapid evidence assessment regarding the impacts of the CAP on the economy, society and the environment. If you wish to participate, please see the link here


Last edited: 13.04.2017 07:38 (GMT) - by Florian Koch

Member: Geert de Snoo

Date: 26.03.2017 08:51 (GMT)

We studied the relation between the area of landscape elements and biodiversity (species richness). Knowing this relation we can discuss the percentage of ecological focus area in the landscape we need for greening the CAP. For example in areas with 3% nature elements 52% of all dutch butterfly species are present. In areas with 7% nature elements 64% of all Dutch species is present. For birds these numbers are 66% and 74%. See: Cormont, A., H. Siepel, J. Clement, T.C.P. Melman, M.F. Wallis de Vries, C.A.M. van Turnhout, L.B. Sparrius, M. Reemer, J.C. Biesmeijer, F. Berendse & G.R. de Snoo, 2016. Landscape complexity and farmland biodiversity: evaluating the CAP target on natural elements. Journal for Nature Conservation 30: 19-26.

Member: Florian Koch

Date: 30.03.2017 19:45 (GMT)

Dear Geert, thank you very much for sharing this information!

Member: Jonas Josefsson

Date: 28.03.2017 06:44 (GMT)

We monitored crop and farmland bird diversity on 178 farms across Sweden’s main agricultural areas. From a pre-implementation assessment, we show that >97% of the assessed farms would not be required to change their management under the CAP crop diversification measure (minimum of three crops for farms with 30+ ha), suggesting that this measure has generated little change on Swedish farms. We also show that crop structural diversity (i.e. the management and vegetation structure of crops) rather than crop diversity senso lato positively affected richness of non-crop breeding bird species with stronger effects in arable, compared with forest-dominated landscapes. No such effects were observed among field-nesting farmland bird species.
Josefsson, J., Berg, Å., Hiron, M., Pärt, T., & Eggers, S. 2016. Sensitivity of the farmland bird community to crop diversification in Sweden: does the CAP fit? Journal of Applied Ecology, doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12779

Member: Florian Koch

Date: 30.03.2017 19:46 (GMT)

Thank you, Jonas!

Member: Florian Koch

Date: 05.04.2017 07:42 (GMT)

The new report of the RISE Foundation is now available: Buckwell, A. et al. 2017. CAP - Thinking Out of the Box: Further modernisation of the CAP – why, what and how? RISE Foundation, Brussels.

Member: Klaus Birkhofer

Date: 11.04.2017 11:39 (GMT)

We looked into effects of management intensity in permanent grasslands (a CAP greening measure) on various aspects of diversity. These studies highlight that conservation measures focusing on permanent grasslands need to address management intensity to avoid biodiversity losses.

Gossner et al. (2016) Land-use intensification causes homogenization of grassland communities across trophic levels. Nature 540: 266-269, DOI:10.1038/nature20575
Birkhofer K, Meub C, Stötzel K, Wolters V, Diekötter T (2015) Optimizing arthropod predator conservation in permanent grasslands by considering diversity components beyond species richness. Agriculture, Ecosystem & Environment 211: 65-72, DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2015.05.014

We further documented that these biodiversity losses will impact multifunctionality in permanent grasslands.

Soliveres S et al. (2016) Biodiversity at multiple trophic levels is needed for ecosystem multifunctionality. Nature 536:456-459, DOI:10.1038/nature19092

Member: Florian Koch

Date: 13.04.2017 07:39 (GMT)

Thank you very much, we will add the studies to our database. Best wishes, Florian

Member: Guy Pe'er

Date: 18.04.2017 12:37 (GMT)

We are currently reviewing the literature for available evidence on the greening measures. Most studies we find have evaluated the policy design and implementation by farmers, compared to knowledge on what interventions should be most effective.
Relevant studies:
Pe'er, G., L. V. Dicks, P. Visconti, R. Arlettaz, A. Báldi, T. G. Benton, S. Collins, M. Dieterich, R. D. Gregory, F. Hartig, K. Henle, P. R. Hobson, D. Kleijn, R. K. Neumann, T. Robijns, J. A. Schmidt, A. Shwartz, W. J. Sutherland, A. Turbé, F. Wulf, and A. V. Scott. 2014. EU agricultural reform fails on biodiversity. Science 344:1090-1092. (including a large review in the Supplementary Material) --> analysed the policy design and requirements compared to ongoing trends and found that most requirements will not have an effect.
Lefebvre, M., Espinosa, M., Gomez y Paloma, S., Paracchini, M.L., Piorr, A., Zasada I. (2015) Agricultural landscapes as multi-scale public good and the role of the Common Agricultural Policy. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2014.891975 --> Emphasising that "The focus of the CAP is mostly limited to landscape management at the farm scale. Landscape-scale management remains the exception rather than the rule."
Hart, K. 2015. Green direct payments: implementation choices of nine Member States and their environmental implications. IEEP, London. --> Assesses the implementation of the greening in 9 MSs, to confirm that indeed most farmers chose the least beneficial options or made little change in management.
Burrascano, S., M. Chytry, T. Kuemmerle, E. Giarrizzo, S. Luyssaert, F. M. Sabatini, and C. Blasi. 2016. Current European policies are unlikely to jointly foster carbon sequestration and protect biodiversity. Biological Conservation 201:370-376.
--> policy assessment.
Cormont, A., Siepel, H., Clement, J., Melman, T. C., WallisDeVries, M. F., van Turnhout, C. A. M., ... & de Snoo, G. R. (2016). Landscape complexity and farmland biodiversity: evaluating the CAP target on natural elements. Journal for Nature Conservation, 30, 19-26.  already in your forum.

Modelling studies:
Cortignani, R., and G. Dono. 2015. Simulation of the impact of greening measures in an agricultural area of the southern Italy. Land Use Policy 48:525-533. --> a modelling study. Identifies that "Many farms in the area study are below the application threshold, and therefore will not be affected".
Díaz, M., and E. D. Concepción. 2016. Enhancing the Effectiveness of CAP Greening as a Conservation Tool: a Plea for Regional Targeting Considering Landscape Constraints. Current Landscape Ecology Reports 1:168-177. …AND…
Tzilivakis, J., Warner, D. J., Green, A., Lewis, K. A., & Angileri, V. (2016). An indicator framework to help maximise potential benefits for ecosystem services and biodiversity from ecological focus areas. Ecological Indicators, 69, 859-872.
--> both these paper explicitly addresses the question of Indicators of effectiveness.
Schulze, J., K. Frank, J. A. Priess, and M. A. Meyer. 2016. Assessing Regional-Scale Impacts of Short Rotation Coppices on Ecosystem Services by Modeling Land-Use Decisions. Plos One 11:21.
--> direct evaluation of anticipated effect on ESS.
Langhammer, M., V. Grimm, S. Putz, and C. J. Topping. 2017. A modelling approach to evaluating the effectiveness of Ecological Focus Areas: The case of the European brown hare. Land Use Policy 61:63-79.  indicates 5% EFA to be insufficient.

REVIEWS and implementation-assessment:
Pe'er, G., Y. Zinngrebe, J. Hauck, S. Schindler, A. Dittrich, S. Zingg, T. Tscharntke, R. Oppermann, L. M. E. Sutcliffe, C. Sirami, J. Schmidt, C. Hoyer, C. Schleyer, and S. Lakner. 2016. Adding some green to the greening: improving the EU’s Ecological Focus Areas for biodiversity and farmers. Conservation Letters, Online first: --> used a survey among 88 experts to score Ecological Focus Areas, and compared to implementation data from 8 MSs and from the EU. Results (similarly to the RISE foundation publication and Hart) is that there is a mismatch between high BD scoring and implementation. However, we noted a positive response in terms of the expansion of land laying fallow. A large number of recommendations was collected from experts.
Dicks, L. V., Hodge, I., Randall, N. P., Scharlemann, J. P. W., Siriwardena, G. M., Smith, H. G., Smith, R. K., Sutherland, W. J. (2014) A Transparent Process for "Evidence-Informed" Policy Making In : Conservation Letters 7. pp. 119-125 --> offers an assessment of what is useful.
Underwood, E and Tucker, G M (2016) Ecological Focus Area choices and their potential impacts on biodiversity. Institute for European Environmental Policy, London.
--> quite an important paper, also along the same line as Pe'er et al. 2016 and Hart 2015:
"current EFA rules and conventional farming practices it is unlikely that most nitrogen-fixing crops and catch and cover crops grown on EFAs provide significant benefits for farmland biodiversity. In contrast, the EFA options of land lying fallow, hedges, and field margins generally have the potential under typical management to provide much greater, more diverse and more reliable biodiversity benefits. The biodiversity benefits of EFA productive options and fallow could be considerably increased through changes in the incentives and implementation rules."
Zinngrebe, Y., G. Pe'er, S. Schueler, J. Schmitt, J. Schmidt & S. Lakner (2017): The EU's Ecological Focus Areas - explaining farmers' choices in Germany, Land Use Policy 2017, online first
--> based on interviews with farmers, extension services and agricultural ministries in all Federal States in Germany, assessed the factors determining farmers greening decisions and collected recommendations for improvements.

Member: Guy Pe'er

Date: 18.04.2017 13:52 (GMT)

An important paper on the greening is:
Hart, K., Buckwell, A., and Baldock, D., 2016. Learning the Lessons of the Greening of the CAP. London: Institute for European Environmental Policy.

Member: Sue Collins

Date: 18.04.2017 18:01 (GMT)

I, together with Guy Beaufoy have looked at the relationship between semi natural grassland management and butterflies . I can send you a link to the oaper. We also have unpublished case studies related to this work. The Reports by the EEA analysing the Article 17 Reports from EU MS , under the EU Habitats Directive also include extensive anaysis of the effect of agro ecosystems on biodiversity . THe EU Mid Term Review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy (and the associated EU Staff Working Ppaer) also contain relevant analysis of the effects of agriculture and farming practices on biodiversity. These analyses are based on field monitoring data.

Member: Florian Koch

Date: 03.05.2017 08:29 (GMT)

Thank you Sue! It would be great, if you could send me the link of the paper.

Member: Guy Pe'er

Date: 25.04.2017 20:32 (GMT)

For the record, and in case of interest, my current project (3.2017-6.2019) will focus on evaluating the CAP's greening measures. The project's title is:
"Towards the next reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy: evaluating the new greening measures from Ecological and Socio-economic perspectives".
2 Project summary
Agricultural intensification and expansion, combined with abandonment of extensively managed farmland, are leading to ongoing losses of biodiversity (BD) and ecosystem services (ESS). At the same time, rural employment is declining and farmers are facing major economic uncertainties. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a key factor shaping these processes but also offering tools to mitigate them. The latest CAP reform has introduced three new “greening measures” into the direct payments to farmers, potentially improving the protection of BD and ESS. However, concerns have been raised that BD, ESS and rural employment are still declining, while farmers situation did not improve.
Toward the next CAP reform, we will conduct an interdisciplinary evaluation of the CAP from both ecological and economic perspectives. Starting with the greening measure “Ecological Focus Areas”, we will inspect how the CAP affects BD, ESS and the links between them. Expanding to all greening measures, we will assess the impacts on land-use, BD (status and trends of birds and butterflies) and ESS, as well as farm structures, farmers’ employment and income. Finally we will assess the ecological effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different environmental instruments in the CAP, as well as synergies and trade-offs among them and with other instruments. Thereby, we will develop a set of policy recommendations for the next CAP reform.

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