Ecological Focus Areas: A key contribution to greening the CAP
In October last year, the European Commission published its draft legislative proposals on the future of the CAP. These included a series of changes across the policy, but perhaps none so contested as the proposed ‘greening’ of direct payments within Pillar 1.
The proposals set out that 30 per cent of direct payments would be contingent upon farmers carrying out practices that contribute towards objectives for climate and the environment. This presents a significant opportunity to raise the overall standard of environmental farmland management across the EU and allow European agriculture to fulfil its crucial role in helping to deliver some of the EU’s ambitious environmental objectives
Of the three Pillar 1 ‘greening’ measures proposed, the creation of Ecological Focus Areas is recognised as having the greatest potential to deliver additional environmental benefits. How much of this potential is realised in practice, however, depends to a large degree on precisely how the proposals evolve and the flexibility granted for their implementation.
The recent IEEP report, Maximising environmental benefits through Ecological Focus Areas, prepared for the UK’s Land Use Policy Group (LUPG) identifies some of the key factors that require consideration if EFAs are to provide meaningful environmental benefits. These include the type of environmental features that could form part of the EFA; where they are located on the farm holding and across the farmed landscape; whether they are maintained for successive years; the proportion of the farm holding and the management practices pursued or allowed.
For more details contact: Ben Allen