In Europe, some hope is offered by the upcoming CAP reform, forma

In Europe, some hope is offered by the upcoming CAP reform, formally adopted by the Council

of EU Agriculture Ministers on 16 December 2013. Basic Regulations for the reformed CAP ( include measures aimed at the “greening” of direct payments in Pillar 1. One of these measures, the creation of ecological focus areas (EFA), intends to maintain at least 5 % (and possibly 7 % after 2017) of farmland for environmental purposes (Allen et al. 2012). Since EFA primarily include diverse semi-natural habitats, the maintenance of field margins should be a matter of the utmost importance. At the national level the agri-environment-climate schemes (AES) in Pillar 2 have been recognized as having the greatest potential to address many environmental concerns (Wade et al. 2008). The variety of packages selleck inhibitor tailored to national circumstances targeted more or less threatened species; unfortunately, evidence from Western Europe indicates that these species have rarely benefitted from such schemes (Kleijn et al. 2006). Our study is particularly relevant to the measures aimed at maintaining various strips in the field or at the edge of the field, between

the crop and the boundary (Vickery et al. 2009; Josefsson et al. 2013). In Polish AES these measures comprise the GW-572016 buffer zones scheme (BZ), present in the current program and until recently considered for the new version 2014-2020. Unfortunately,

in the current program payment rates in BZ scheme were very low (20–50$ per 100 m) and were in conflict with direct payments (Keenleyside 2006). In the end, BZ was the scheme with the least uptake of all packages, appealing to a mere 0.002 % of the 117,000 farmers who applied for contracts in 2012 (The Agricultural Advisory Centre in Brwinów, unpubl. data). In consequence, the abandonment of this scheme, and also the margin strip scheme developed for the new AES, are being considered in the revised program. Even though the program is still under debate, in December 2013 these particular schemes have Clomifene been removed, which flies in the face of conservation evidence and thwart the principal aims of AES. We argue that retaining the BZ and the related schemes aimed at creation of the margin strips, as well as a significant increase in payments are obvious prerequisites for accomplishing environmental benefits. Several targeted field-scale measures could be designated within these schemes. As a baseline they should promote and sustain a mosaic of field margins, from herbaceous boundaries, to multilayered tree lines, with particular attention given to shrubby margins. The proportion of these margin types in the landscape and detailed management recommendations, for example, leaving the outermost strip of field free of agrochemical input, partial cutting of margin vegetation and the removal of biomass, should be additionally drawn up.

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