Advocating for sustainable agriculture

The way we manage our land has an impact on biodiversity. If we get it wrong biodiversity is driven into decline, but if we get it right we can reverse the trends.

Farmers manage more than half the land in Europe and everybody is affected by how this land is managed. Farming provides us with food and various other products, and at the same time it produces public goods and services such as wildlife habitats, attractive landscapes, watershed management and carbon retention. On the other hand, agriculture is considered to be the most important factor driving biodiversity lossBecause of incorrect land management practices farmland birds have declined by 50% in Europe since the 1980s.

BirdLife Europe has noticed that farmland birds are the most threatened birds, with the same also true for butterflies, bees, other pollinating insects, annual plants and many other groups. More widely, agriculture is one of the main sectors threatening the environment, in particular through water pollution and depletion, soil degradation and GHG emissions. In the long term, preserving our agro ecosystems is the best way to ensure our future food production, the most fundamental of human needs.

A dysfunctional and wasteful Common Agricultural Policy

The European Union has also been subsidising its agriculture sector heavily for more than half a century through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and a large part of those subsidies are not even tied to effective and sustainable land management practices.

Despite subsequent rounds of reform, the subsidies system and the farming practices supported by the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) have remained dysfunctional and wasteful. The CAP represents more than 40% of the European Union’s budget but it keeps subsidising harmful farming practices while not addressing the plight of High Nature Value farming systems and providing only minimal funding to support sustainable farming. BirdLife Europe has been calling on the European Union for many years to reform the CAP, to ensure that EU citizen’s money is used to support the provision of the public goods they need.

BirdLife is working on a regional programme in Europe advocating for sustainable agriculture. Our aim is for agriculture in Europe to be biodiversity friendly and environmentally and socially sustainable. We're also working to minimise the environmental footprint of European food production, trade and consumption. We work with our national Partners to reform the wider agricultural system in Europe. We do this through engagement with farmers and decision makers, but also through continuous evaluation of both biodiversity and the policies that affect it.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.

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