Aims: To assess ex-ante the adequacy of available agri-environmental schemes towards the agriculture-related conservation requirements of pseudo-steppe birds and their habitats in Spain.
Methods: A literature review was made on these requirements, based on which 21 "desirable agricultural practices" were identified. National and regional legislative acts implementing schemes under the 2000-2006 programme as in December 2003 were then collected, and the degree to which these desirable practices had been included among the schemes´ commitments was determined. The percentage of included desirable practices was considered an indication of the schemes´ adequacy towards the conservation requirements of pseudo-steppe birds. Schemes were also assessed in regards to their provisions for spatially targeted implementation.
Results and Conclusions: Only 71% of identified desirable practices are included as commitments to farmers at the national level. Implementation deficit at the regional level diminishes this figure at an average 39%, with extreme cases at 0 % and 67 %. Further, schemes´ implementation is generally not targeted to particular sites of special conservation interest, such as Special Protection Areas (Birds Directive). On the basis of encountered design deficiencies and limited implementation, it is concluded that limited effects in terms of pseudo-steppe birds´ conservation can be expected from current agri-environmental schemes in Spain. Further, it is argued that detected implementation deficits may be seriously impeding a needed learning-from-doing process in the agri-environment policy arena, an issue of capital importance in the actual context of the European Common Agricultural Policy.
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