Will CAP reform help or hinder nature’s recovery?

Monday 10th October 2011

A forthcoming announcement about the Common Agricultural Policy has the potential to significantly help or hinder nature’s recovery in the UK, according to The Wildlife Trusts.

On Wednesday (12 Oct) the European Commission will announce plans to shape the way farmland is managed between 2014-2020, through proposals to change the Common Agricultural Policy.

The current Common Agricultural Policy is in need of fundamental reform.  The Wildlife Trusts want to see an increased percentage of the EU agriculture budget spent on delivering a range of robust environmental measures, including protection for wildlife-rich grasslands and restoration of fragmented habitats.  New environmental measures should reflect and recognise that healthy ecosystems are a vital element of sustainable societies and must be better integrated with other major policies, such as the Water Framework Directive.

As agriculture accounts for more than 75% of land use in the UK its future is critical to The Wildlife Trusts’ ambition to deliver A Living Landscape.

The conservation organisation is voicing concerns that proposed changes may fail to properly reward farmers for taking measures to protect and restore the natural environment.  In doing so they could compromise the future of sustainable and wildlife-friendly farming systems.

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We believe the Common Agricultural Policy should underpin sustainable food production and a healthy Living Landscape.  We need continued investment in agri-environment schemes.  We want to see Wednesday’s proposals help, not hinder, nature’s recovery.  It is of critical concern. A healthy natural environment is an essential part of sustainable farming systems.”

The Wildlife Trusts will respond to a UK consultation, led by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The final European Union (EU) budget is expected to be announced in Spring 2012.

Notes for editors:

The Wildlife Trusts www.wildlifetrusts.org

Manage more than 90,000 hectares of land in the UK and provide around 5,000 days of land management advice to others every year.

Common Agricultural Policy
http://www.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/farm-manage/cap-reform/

Water Framework Directive
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/planning/33238.aspx