CAP4GI: Improving Green infrastructure, biodiversity and ecosystem services in Common Agricultural Policy
Farms can make a critical contribution to protecting our native biodiversity through effective environmental measures and the provision of landscape elements and structures (e.g. field margins, hedges, etc.). But how can agricultural policy instruments be designed so that they empower farms and motivate them to protect biodiversity? What do farmers need so that they can do more for the environment, nature and biodiversity? What criteria can they use to determine which measures to implement?
Agriculture faces a multitude of challenges, possibly more than any sector. There is a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve animal welfare. At the same time, the sector must adapt to the impact of climate change in order to not endanger the income security of farmers. Then there is the decline in biological diversity, which continues unabated, a result of the loss of habitats inside and outside of agricultural land.
What is green infrastructure (GI)?
Green infrastructure includes natural and semi-natural landscape elements and other measures to promote agricultural biodiversity such as hedges, groups of trees, field margins, fallow land. These provide animals and plants with habitat, food, shelter and the possibility to reproduce. In order to promote biodiversity on agricultural land, there must not only be more of these landscape elements, they must also be placed in such a way that they form a network and also give the different species the opportunity to move and spread into new areas.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU
In the EU, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the most important funding instrument for influencing the design of the agricultural landscape. At around 378 billion euros, it accounts for almost a third of the entire EU budget for 2021-2027. At the same time, payments from the CAP represent a significant proportion of farm income. Both illustrate the leverage that a more biodiversity-friendly CAP could have.
Number (or token)
The EU CAP accounts for around a third of the EU budget.
While the outcome of the current CAP reform is viewed critically by science and environmental organisations, there is an opportunity to further improve its positive elements. These include, for example, the agri-environmental measures, which will continue to gain in importance in the future. On the one hand, ecological control at the landscape or ecosystem level must improve. On the other, it is important to design the funding in such a way that it effectively addresses the implementation barriers that farmers face.
The goals of the CAP4GI project
As part of the Biodiversity Conservation Research Initiative (FEdA) of the Federal Ministry of Education Research (BMBF), the CAP4GI project aims to identify ways in which the ecological effectiveness of measures can be improved through a landscape-based approach. Particular attention is paid to leverage points that make it possible to transfer measures to different socio-economic contexts.
BMBF Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity (FEdA)
The project also aims to gain a deeper understanding of the decisions that farmers make – this is intended to promote cooperation between farmers in nature conservation measures. In addition, recommendations and possible solutions are to be developed for the current and future CAP to support the ecologically more effective – as well as economically and organisationally more realistic – design of the measures.
Working with farmers
The design of sustainable agricultural policy measures is unthinkable without the participation of farms. For this reason, the project team relies on close exchange and cooperation with farmers and other stakeholders. To this end, there are exchange platforms with farmers in three project regions each in Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia. On the one hand, this is about the problems and needs farmers have when implementing biodiversity-promoting measures. On the other, the platforms also offer farmers the opportunity to develop solutions for the project regions on their own.
On state-wide exchange platforms in Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg, actors from administration and politics can also enter into direct exchange with farmers and get involved in process design.
The project is coordinated by adelphi research gGmbH and implemented together with five partners. It runs from November 2021 to October 2024 and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the Research Initiative for the Preservation of Biodiversity (FEdA).