The agricultural sector is one of the several natural resource-based industries that can provide biodiversity benefits through the application of sustainable management systems and the adoption of alternative and innovative technologies and practices.
In 2001, the EU set itself the target to halt biodiversity loss in the EU by 2010 and an EU Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) was adopted by the Commission in 2006 to accelerate progress. Despite the efforts to date, there are clear indications that the EU has not achieved its target. The Council of EU Environment Ministers have recently renewed the ambition to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020 and protecting nature must now be integrated into a new long-term economic strategy for Europe. In this respect, the CAP could be a key tool for helping to halt the loss of biodiversity in Europe.
At the plot level, balanced land use could be the way forward, linking agricultural intensification practices – where some good examples exist, such as natural pest control or pollination – with conservation measures that enhance biodiversity. This could be done through the sustainable management of semi-natural environments at the edge of agricultural areas, such as woodland, semi-natural grassland, hedges and field margins.
In addition, the interaction between climate change, biologically diverse ecosystems and agriculture is of fundamental importance, especially in terms of our ability to produce enough food. The agricultural sector is both part of the problem and part of the solution. Climate change might well endanger food production and this could lead to major political, economic, social and environmental upheavals. Healthy ecosystems will be more resilient to climate change. Therefore, farming must do more to mitigate and adapt to climate change, notably improving the quality of the soils, saving water, producing renewable energies such as biogas, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and burying carbon. (Franz Fischler, FFA2010)