Results-based nature conservation plan
What is at issue?
A results-based nature conservation plan (Ergebnisorientierter Naturschutzplan, ENP) involves the definition of concrete conservation targets in collaboration with farmers directly on their land. The targets generally relate to high nature value farm land, and are to be reached by the end of the commitment period as laid out by the Austrian Agri-Environmental Programme (ÖPUL). Farmers themselves decide upon which measures to implement to reach the targets.
What is the benefit?
Results-based nature conservation plans allow farmers to contribute their practical farm management experience in working towards nature-conservation targets. They can react more flexibly to external influences such as weather events and can better align cultivation measures with business processes. Farmers have a more thorough understanding of the connections between their activities and the occurrence of certain plant and animal species on their land, and thus become long-term partners of nature conservation.
Pictures from the project
What do we do?
A results-based nature conservation plan entails a collaborative process with the farmer, in which concrete targets are defined for the conservation of areas particularly valuable from a nature conservation perspective.
To set targets for all relevant areas, an ecological advisor pays a visit to the farm and inspects suitable parcels together with the farmer. They discuss conservation targets and agree upon them jointly. The farmer then takes responsibility for monitoring and documenting the targets over time. After some years, the results are reviewed and evaluated together with the ecological adviser.
Examples for targets:
“Preserving and developing a habitat for the wart-biter with vegetation-free areas, vertical structures (bushes, high-grass areas) as well as low-grass areas.”
“Cotton-grass and broad-leaved marsh orchid should be scattered in the area.”
To ensure that the ecological value of the designated parcels does not deteriorate, so-called control criteria are defined. These criteria can be monitored by the Technical Testing Service of AMA, the leading Austrian agricultural marketing company. Just like the conservation targets, control criteria are defined in collaboration with the farmer during the first field visit.
Each farmer engaged in a results-based nature conservation plan receives a handy and individually designed logbook for the tractor. This logbook conspicuously summarizes both conservation targets and control criteria. It also contains tips on how better to achieve targets. The participating farmers also use the logbook to document the management measures they have implemented on the designated parcels and how the defined targets are coming along.
The EU Presidency provided an excellent occasion for Wolfgang Suske to introduce ENP at the Informal Meeting of Rural Development Directors in Bregenz.
The results-based nature conservation plan is presented on the website of the European Commission as a showcase approach:
«I want to preserve my high nature value landscapes, but I found the regulation system too rigid. Now I have the option of switching more often between grazing and mowing during the commitment period.»
This could interest you.
Development and implementation of an innovative approach to nature conservation.
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