Environmental objectives of Spanish agriculture: scientific guidelines for their effective implementation under the Common Agricultural Policy 2023-2030
Authors: Mario DÍAZ, Elena D. CONCEPCIÓN, Manuel B. MORALES, Juan Carlos ALONSO, Francisco M. AZCÁRATE, Ignacio BARTOMEUS, Gérard BOTA, Lluis BROTONS, Daniel GARCÍA, David GIRALT, José Eugenio GUTIÉRREZ, José Vicente LÓPEZ-BAO, Santiago MAÑOSA, Rubén MILLA, Marcos MIÑARRO, Alberto NAVARRO, Pedro P. OLEA, Carlos PALACÍN, Begoña PECO, Pedro J. REY, Javier SEOANE, Susana SUÁREZ-SEOANE, Christian SCHÖB, Rocío TARJUELO, Juan TRABA, Francisco VALERA and Elena VELADO-ALONSO
Published: Volume 68.2, July 2021. Pages 445-460.
The next reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period 2021-2027 (currently extended to 2023-2030) requires the approval by the European Commission of a Strategic Plan with environmental objectives for each Member State. Here we use the best available scientific evidence on the relationships between agricultural practices and biodiversity to delineate specific recommendations for the development of the Spanish Strategic Plan. Scientific evidence shows that Spain should (1) identify clear regional biodiversity targets and the landscape-level measures needed to achieve them; (2) define ambitious and complementary criteria across the three environmental instruments (enhanced conditionality, eco-schemes, and agri-environmental and climate measures) of the CAP’s Green Architecture, especially in simple and complex landscapes; (3) ensure that other CAP instruments (areas of nature constraints, organic farming and protection of endangered livestock breeds and crop varieties) really support biodiversity; (4) improve farmers’ knowledge and adjust measures to real world constraints; and (5) invest in biodiversity and ecosystem service monitoring in order to evaluate how the Plan achieves regional and national targets and to improve measures if targets are not met. We conclude that direct assessments of environmental objectives are technically and economically feasible, can be attractive to farmers, and are socially fair and of great interest for improving the environmental effectiveness of CAP measures. The explicit and rigorous association of assessments and monitoring, relating specific environmental indicators to regional objectives, should be the main criterion for the approval of the Strategic Plan in an environmentally-focused CAP 2023-2030.