By Jenny Brunton, Senior European Policy Advisor, British Agriculture Bureau
Key elements of the biodiversity strategy:
- Establishing protected areas for at least 30% of land in Europe and 30% of sea in Europe with legally binding nature-restoration targets in 2021 providing stricter protection of EU forests. Currently 26% of EU land is already protected under Natura 2000 or national schemes.
- The Commission will promote the goal of zero pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus flows from fertilisers through reducing nutrient losses by at least 50% while ensuring no deterioration of soil fertility. This target will result in the reduction of use of fertilisers by at least 20%. This will be achieved by applying balanced fertilisation and sustainable nutrient management.
- Restore at least 25,000 km of EU rivers to a free-flowing state.
- Plant 3 billion trees by 2030.
- The Commission will take actions to reduce by 50% the overall use and risk from chemical pesticides by 2030 and reduce by 50% the use of more hazardous pesticides by 2030.
- At least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land must be under organic farming by 2030. The future Commission Action Plan on organic farming will include measures to stimulate demand for organic products.
- Bring a minimum of 10% of utilised agricultural area under high diversity landscape features, such as buffer strips, rotational or non-rotational fallow land, and landscape features including hedges, non-productive trees, terrace walls, ponds.
- Unlocking €20 billion per year for biodiversity through various sources, including EU funds and national and private funding. Natural capital and biodiversity considerations will be integrated into business practices.
Copa and Cogeca believe that “EU farmers, forest owners and their cooperatives are part of the solution and should be given the opportunity to continue to contribute as partners in the conservation of biodiversity. However, since sources of biodiversity decline are diverse and multifactorial, they alone cannot stop the loss of biodiversity. This is a task for society as a whole and it requires governments, all economic sectors and consumers to play their part.
The key is to have biodiversity and agricultural policies that support and reward farmers and forest owners in their efforts to protect biodiversity while they produce food and biomass. This should be done without additional regulatory requirements and should leave room for solutions within the EU framework tailored to local needs.
When it comes to agriculture, European farmers and their cooperatives are willing to participate in defining a realistic biodiversity target that would be easy to measure with an indicator that farmers could directly influence. Future biodiversity targets can only be achieved with effective policy instruments, designed to improve the sustainability of the sectors in the long term.”