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Biodiversity and agriculture

Written by Anne Altmayer,

© taviphoto / Fotolia

In its mid-term review of the Biodiversity strategy, the European Commission identified a continuing decline in the species and habitats associated with agriculture. It concluded that the strategy was not fulfilling expectations with regard to the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity.

Numerous studies show that agricultural biodiversity loss is linked to intensification of agricultural activities on the one hand, and the abandonment of farming on the other hand. Intensification is generally associated with high yields, but also with significant changes in the natural environment. Abandonment generally implies the loss of cultivated landscapes and corresponding habitats.

There are essentially two different models of how to reconcile biodiversity and agricultural activities: the land-sharing model based on more extensive farming, and the land-sparing model based on further intensification of farming.

The reformed Common Agricultural Policy offers various instruments aimed at supporting biodiversity while guaranteeing a decent living for farmers. Conservationists consider the reforms to be lagging behind expectations, whereas farmers fear a loss of income through lower yields.

The European Parliament has expressed concern regarding biodiversity loss and has called on the Commission to assess the effectiveness of the measures taken so far.

The full briefing on ‘Biodiversity and agriculture‘ can be found here in PDF.




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