Monitoring European farmland biodiversity: a cost and information optimisation exercise
With the greening of the Common Agricultural Policy, the ambition to contribute to halting of biodiversity loss outside protected conservation areas and the current financial situation of the European Union, there is a need for (i) a cost efficient monitoring scheme of agricultural biodiversity while simultaneously (ii) maximizing the information gained. Those two requirements result in an optimization exercise.
In the European FP7 project BioBio (www.biobio-indicator.org), we collected biodiversity data on farm types throughout Europe and consulted stakeholders. We identified 1. A set of biodiversity indicators which is informative for non-scientists and does not include redundant information (Dennis et al. 2010); 2. The costs of collecting these indicators in a routine monitoring scheme (Geijzendorffer et al. 2012). 3. A proposition of a sampling design for the monitoring of agro-biodiversity on farming systems within Europe.
Based on these results, statistical and modeling exercises were undertaken to determine whehter agro-biodiversity monitoring could already be possible using 0.25 % of the total CAP budget. This assumed budget percentage of 0.25 is relatively modest compared with recommended percentages for monitoring activities in literature (e.g. Rieder (2011) proposes 0.5 -10 %) and is lower than that recommended by the European commission (i.e. 0.5 % in EC (2004)).
To answer these questions, explicit effort was undertaken to ensure that changes in biodiversity over space and time can be detected. This aspect is usually not covered by research projects that propose monitoring systems.
The sampling design was developed based on a probability sampling of farms within regions (NUTS2) combined with environmental zones (Metzger et al., 2005) over main farm types, using the current regional distribution of farm types (Jongman et al., 2012) taking into account farm and biodiversity dynamics (type and size).
BioBio focused on monitoring biodiversity at farm scale and it uses farm types within zones as the smallest reporting unit for biodiversity indicators. Whilst this biodiversity monitoring scheme allows the detection of trends in biodiversity, it would not be able to pick up changes at a landscape scale. Therefore it would need to be complemented by a landscape monitoring effort.
Results from the modeling exercise show that with 0.25 % of the CAP budget, 50.000 farms can be monitored which equals 1.7% of the total number of European farms in a rolling 5 years’ survey. Estimations of the farm numbers to be sampled based on data variability included three scenarios with respectively 12.7%, 4.3% and 1.9% of total farm population to be sampled. The 1,7% that can be monitored by the 0.25% of the CAP is less than the percentage in the lowest monitoring scenario computed in this paper based on the data variability, but it is not far off indicating a true potential for monitoring for a realistic budget allocation.
Keywords: monitoring, sampling design, agro-biodiversity, cost-effectiveness
We would like to thank all stakeholders for their input and all farmers that allowed us access to their lands on multiple occasions and all the field teams that took up the challenge to collect data for the BioBio protocol.
Part of the BioBio project was funded under the 7th framework program of the European Union (Grant KBBE 227161). This presentation was made possible by the EU BON project (www.eubon.eu) which is funded under the 7th framework program of the European Union (Grant no 308454).
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