Experts from more than 20 countries responded to the call by SCB-ES to gather information on grassland mappings in Europe. Based on this information and additional contribution from Birdlife and EEB, the Board submitted an official letter to the participants of the ongoing CAP trilogue discussion. For more country-specific information read the google doc.
"14 May 2013
Mrs Anna Barnett, DG Environment
Ms Caroline Raes, DG Agriculture and Rural Development
Mr Pierre Bascou, DG Agriculture and Rural Development
Mr Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos
Ambassador Rory Montgomery
Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
Subject: Evidence on grassland mappings in Member States supports inclusion of high nature value grasslands into EU agricultural policies
As the trilogue discussions related to the CAP subsidy reforms proceed, we are aware that difficulties were raised with respect to the question whether grasslands, wetlands and peatlands have been mapped with sufficient accuracy to enable parcel-level / farm-level payments by the EU.
We think that improved grassland protection through agri-environment measures does not necessarily require full scale mappings. Rather, existing programs within EU member states indicate that target oriented funding can be accomplished independent of mapping status (e.g. MEKA B4 agri-environment measure, Federal State of Baden-Württemberg, Germany).
In addition, in the context of the Natura 2000 implementation, EU member states are required to provide parcel level data on conservation status of Annex I grasslands. Therefore, plot specific data for those grassland areas most significant for nature conservation are already available or should be available according to legal requirements. Provided such data are not available for all countries, we urge the EU commission to consider immediate legal action against the according member states.
A relatively quick query across our European members reveals that such mapping efforts for natural/semi-natural grasslands, C-rich soils, peatlands and wetlands have already been completed in several member states or regions (e.g. Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden). These maps are of high quality standards and already inform conservation efforts at various administrative levels. In addition, colleagues from Greece, Italy, Netherlands, England have informed us about on on-going efforts and projects that explicitly engage in such mapping.
We found a clear indication that approaches, methods, and tools to permit an effective inclusion of high nature value grasslands into EU agricultural policies exist now, and therefore there is no reasons to exclude the protection of these areas from the CAP 2014 – 2020. These grasslands harbouring up to 50% of the red listed plant species are under increasing pressure from intensification or abandonment. Effective protection can not be postponed beyond 2020, if the EU is serious about achieving its stated biodiversity targets.
We wish to further remind the participants of the trilogue that available information raised in the context of projects defining High Nature Value areas throughout the EU indicates that in many cases the current area of natural and semi-natural habitats within agricultural areas in Europe is considerably more than 7 % and thus above the maximum target of Ecological Focus Areas currently discussed. For Germany the 2010 Indicator report on national biodiversity targets indicates High Nature Value Farmland (HNVF) at 13% of the totally farmed area. The figures are even higher in the new EU Member States (for example in Romania, see Appendix). We therefore reiterate our strong support to adopting the highest possible scenario in order to avoid the likely situation where CAP funding continues to support the loss of semi-natural habitats and associated biodiversity in Europe.
We would be pleased to have an opportunity to discuss our concerns with DG Agriculture and Rural Development and members of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament.
Prof. Dr. András Báldi, President, Society for Conservation Biology - Europe Section