The BIOGEA project investigated the impact of changes to land use encouraged by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Greening on Green and Blue Infrastructures (GBI) in the agricultural landscape and the effects that different types of GBI have on biodiversity (plant and bird species). GBI includes landscape elements essential for providing habitats and ensuring connectivity, thus contributing to preserve biodiversity. Analysis of policy at the European Union (EU) and national levels in Bulgaria, Germany and Spain was combined with analysis of its local level implementation, in six case study areas including through collaboration (interviews, workshops, round tables) with stakeholders on all levels. In each country a more extensive and more intensive farming system was examined. In the same areas, in-field biodiversity and habitat monitoring and modelling was carried out.
BIOGEA found that ecologically valuable GBI, such as hedgerows, trees, grass-strips, land lying fallow or extensive arable land and extensive grassland, support biodiversity in farmland. Productive elements such as Nitrogen-fixing crops provide few biodiversity benefits. However, farmers, when making choices on environmental measures, chose the measures closest to their existing farming practice and current advice provision does not encourage uptake of the more environmentally beneficial options. In all agricultural land, a minimum amount of GBI is needed for biodiversity. Additional GBI produces the greatest benefits in landscapes of intermediate farming intensity while for the most extensive systems, maintaining existing GBI is more important. In intensive systems, more targeted efforts to reintroduce and restore GBI are needed to benefit biodiversity. Environmental evaluations of measures’ performance are needed to improve their ecological effectiveness.
adelphi coordinated the project and was responsible for the policy analysis, stakeholder engagement in Germany and drawing together the final policy recommendations. These were presented at an event at the European Parliament. The results, highly relevant to the process of CAP reform in 2020, have also been published in a range of peer-reviewed journals.