CAP4GI: Leverages and potentials in the Common Agricultural Policy for improved support of Green Infrastructure, biodiversity and ecosystem services


Unsustainable agriculture is still considered one of the most important drivers for the ongoing loss of biodiversity [1], and biodiversity in agricultural landscapes is declining even faster than in other landscape types [2]. The reason for this is both agriculture that is often too intensive from a biodiversity perspective and the abandonment of cultivation of less productive areas. Both lead to a deterioration or even the disappearance of habitats inside and outside the cultivated area. Overall, farmland species thus lack the required minimum amount of green infrastructure (GI) [3].

In the EU, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the most important funding instrument influencing farming practices and agricultural landscapes. At around 336 billion euros, it accounts for almost one third of the EU's long-term budget for 2021-2027 [4]. At the same time, CAP payments represent a significant share of farm incomes. Both aspects illustrate the leverage effect that a more biodiversity-friendly CAP could have. However, the current reform process is met with criticism from scientists [5] and environmental organisations [6]. At the same time, the implementation of the new CAP by EU member states will offer the opportunity to further improve its positive elements. On the one hand, ecological management must be improved at the landscape/ecosystem level. On the other hand, support must be designed in such a way that it effectively addresses and helps overcome implementation barriers faced by farmers. 

As part of the BMBF's Research Initiative for Biodiversity Conservation (FEdA), the CAP4GI project aims to identify ways to improve the ecological effectiveness of measures through a landscape approach. Particular attention will be paid to levers that enable a transfer to different socio-economic situations.

In a first phase, relevant implementation barriers were identified and solutions from other member states evaluated. In a second phase, starting in 2022, alternative scenarios are being examined with the help of various simulation analyses. The research approach combines so-called discrete choice experiments, farm-level analyses as well as individual and agent-based models. The development of the exact modelling framework is also part of the first phase. The scientific work takes place in close cooperation with practice partners and farmers.


[1] IPBES (2018): Summary for policymakers of the regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany.

[2] EEA (2019): Abundance and distribution of selected European species: Indicator Assessment.

[3] Biogea (2020): A Green Architecture for Green Infrastructure - How the future CAP could support Green and Blue Infrastructures

[4] Rat der Europäischen Union (2020): Infografik – Multiannual financial framework 2021-2027 and Next Generation EU

[5] Pe'er et al. (2020): The EU's Common Agriculture Policy and Sustainable Farming: A statement by scientists

[6] DNR (2020): Hintergrundpapier: Beginn der GAP-Trilogverhandlungen