Agriculture is a major driver of the ongoing biodiversity decline, demanding an urgent transition towards a system that reconciles productivity and profitability with nature conservation; however, where public policies promote such transitions are in place, their design often poorly fits the relevant biogeophysical systems, decreasing the policies’ expected effectiveness. Spatial scale mismatches are a primary example in this regard. The literature reviewed in this paper, drawing from both ecology and policy studies, suggests to foster policy implementation at the landscape scale, where most functional ecological processes—and the delivery of related ecosystem services—occur on farmland. Two strategies are identified for coordinating policy implementation at the landscape scale: the promotion of farmers’ collective action and the partition of space on an ecologically sound basis through spatial planning. As the new European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2023 is currently being defined, we assess if and how the draft agri-biodiversity legislation includes any of the strategies above. We find no comprehensive uptake of the landscape-scale perspective at the EU level, thereby suggesting that a powerful tool to overcome the CAP underperformance on biodiversity is being overlooked.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
As per the CAP structure, the first pillar represents the core agricultural policy which provides direct payments for income support to European farmers and is entirely financed by the EU budget through the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF). The allocation for 2021–2027 amounts to 258.6 billion Euro. Direct payments are mostly decoupled from production and are conditional on compliance with environmental requirements. The second pillar for Rural Development Policy is co-funded by the EU budget—the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), with an allocation of 85.3 billion Euro—and national and regional funds. Interventions aiming specifically at the protection and enhancement of biodiversity are mainly provided under this second pillar6
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- EU common agricultural policy
- Ecosystem services
- Functional agri-biodiversity
- Landscape scale
- Spatial scale mismatch