Much of Europe’s biodiversity is associated with ecosystems that have arisen from, or are profoundly affected by, human land uses, particularly agriculture and forestry. IEEP has been involved in land use issues since its inception and in recognition of its biodiversity importance pioneered the High Nature Value (HNV) farming concept. It has also been at the forefront of developing policy responses to maintain HNV farming, and to reduce the negative environmental impacts of other agricultural systems, through high-level advice on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the improvement of specific instruments such as cross-compliance standards and agri-environment schemes. We have recently drawn this work together in major reviews of how biodiversity and agriculture interact for the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Tackling biodiversity declines in many agricultural and forest habitats is a major challenge as policy measures are required to support some land-use practices that are marginally economic and to regulate others that typically increase production and profitability. IEEP has helped to address this through practical guidance on policy implementation, including training on agri-environment scheme establishment and the management of farmland within the Natura 2000 network. We are currently investigating the potential advantages and disadvantages of result-based agri-environment schemes - see our web platform for information and guidance.

We have a growing area of work on bioenergy and biofuels, as their production has increased greatly, leading to significant biodiversity impacts within the EU, but particularly elsewhere, such as biodiversity-rich areas in South America. IEEP has developed policies and tools to protect biodiversity from the negative impacts of bioenergy and biofuel production, including land use mapping and defining criteria to protect highly biodiverse grasslands.