Results-based agri-environment schemes: new report and guidance handbook available

Together with experts from across Europe, IEEP has produced a range of useful resources to guide the future development of results-based agri-environment schemes in the EU and beyond. Available to download from dedicated pages on the Commission’s website, these include:

– A practical Guidance Handbook providing step-by-step guidance on the decision-making process and practicalities of setting up and running an effective results-based scheme, accompanied by two supplements focusing on the types of result indicators currently used in Europe and examples of field guides for farmers. The Guidance Handbook can also be downloaded in an e-reader compatible format;
- A Summary of the Guidance Handbook, available in all 24 EU languages;
- A fully searchable, web-based inventory of results-based agri-environment schemes in operation across EU and EFTA countries; and
- Videos from the field , looking at issues such as: effective scheme design; achieving biodiversity outcomes; and involving farmers. There are also country specific videos on the different approaches to results-based schemes in Germany, France, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands.

These materials are accompanied by a study report which reviews the advantages and challenges of adopting results-based approaches for the protection and enhancement of biodiversity within the farmed countryside.

Results-based payment schemes (RBAPS) make it much clearer what the payments to farmers are seeking to achieve, and allow farmers to choose how to adapt the management of their land, livestock and crops to achieve these results. If designed correctly, it should also be easier to control and verify the payments.

Although not mainstream, RBAPS have existed in Europe for over 20 years. In 2014 there were over 30 in operation or planned in the EU and Switzerland, mostly financed by CAP rural development funding. These schemes focus on the conservation of existing valuable habitats and species, such as species-rich meadows, semi-natural grazed habitats, traditional orchards and vineyards, ground nesting birds and large carnivores and raptors, such as the Lynx and Golden Eagle. Key to the success of results-based schemes is the design of simple, reliable result indicators, the availability of environmental information and expertise, and willing farmers.

The study was funded by the European Commission, on behalf of the European Parliament.