In addition to producing food, biomass and energy, agriculture and forestry contribute to the production of a wide range of “public goods”. Examples are landscape, biodiversity, water quality and availability, soil fertility, climate stability, flood and fire protection, food security, animal welfare and rural vitality, as well as the management of most land areas in the EU.
The PROVIDE project funded under H2020 was set up to develop a conceptual basis, tools and improved policy options to support the ‘smart’ provision of public goods by EU agriculture and forestry ecosystems. It has just held its final conference and has produced a knowledge platform which brings together a number of tools for the smart provision of public goods.
About 200 people at EU and local level were involved in co-developing the project’s results. This process demonstrated the potential of participatory approaches to policy-making and the importance of concrete evidence and dialogue. These results were presented at the final project conference in Brussels in June 2018, in the light of the current proposals for the CAP reform.
Mapping of public goods linked to agriculture and forestry
The project provided a comprehensive mapping of public goods linked to agriculture and forestry at EU level and in selected case studies. The mapping covers both supply and demand, in order to identify "hotspots" where the gap between demand and supply is higher. The mapping is also a result in itself and can be used in policy-making and to support dialogue among different interest groups.
Financial evaluation of selected public goods
In the selected areas, the project carried out a monetary valuation of a selected of public goods. The work included an interview of over 2400 households for the demand side and over 2000 farmers for the supply side. They also asked people what they thought about public goods within CAP. The results show that 80% of the people interviewed think that currently, CAP support for the provision of public goods is acceptable or could be higher. Other results from the interviews showed that public goods are a high priority issue, and water in particular.
A study on mechanisms and combinations of mechanisms
Based on the information above, the project analysed selected mechanisms meaning funding and support) and combinations of mechanisms for the provision of public goods in 17 hotspot areas. The results show that using a combination of mechanisms works best. This may combine aspects of both EU and local legislation. In most cases, economic incentives are necessary, however they play a different role depending on the individual areas. Furthermore, the project found different approaches in areas of high production intensity compared to areas of low intensity.