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Results of environmental impact assessment

Environmental assessment in IDEMA focused primarily on the implications of decoupling for preservation of landscape values (Brady et al., 2009). An important reason is that the principal environmental risk associated with decoupling is the loss of landscape values that are produced jointly or in conjunction with agricultural commodities (because decoupling reduces the level of returns to commodity production). Land abandonment, in particular, may result in the loss of landscape values. We provide nevertheless an abridged assessment of the impact on pollution risk at the end of this section (for detailed results, see Brady et al., 2007).

Case-study regions

The case-study regions were selected to capture some of the diversity of the EU25. Selection focused on the following characteristics: agricultural (North/South); socioeconomic (high /low income); mode of operation (intensive/extensive); scale of operations (small/large farm); and legal form (private/corporate). Further, because decoupling is more likely to have significant landscape effects in marginal regions - due to commodity production becoming unprofitable at the margin - we biased selection away from the most competitive agricultural regions. Table 12.1 provides an overview of farm and landscape structure in each region.

The criterion South implies Mediterranean, which is represented by the two Italian regions, Marche and Calabria. These and Vysocina in the Czech Republic are low-income regions with poor employment opportunities outside of agriculture. Intensive regions are defined by high input levels per ha of land (e.g. labour, nutrients and chemicals). The Mediterranean regions are the most intensive followed by Vysocina. The two Swedish regions, Jonkoping and Vasterbotten, are considered extensive because the area of grassland is high and livestock density low (Table 12.1). However, milk yield per cow is relatively high. These regions also provide a contrast with respect to the various Pillar 2 instruments of the CAP and how they might interact with the SPS. Jonkoping has a large area of semi-natural grassland that is important for conservation of biodiversity and its mosaic of arable land adds value to a landscape otherwise dominated by spruce forest. Consequently, agri-environmental schemes are relatively common in this region. In addition, farmers in Vasterbotten are also entitled to complementary national support coupled primarily to milk production (at EUR 0.10/kg).

Vysocina is typical of historical landscape degradation in the new member states (NMS) and the urgency of environmental problems (Jelinek et al., 2007). Extreme expansion and amalgamation of fields during the Communist era has resulted in gigantic fields (frequently over 100 ha) that are both prone to erosion and increase the risk of flooding. Much of the historical mosaic and species-rich habitat such as pasture was also destroyed. On the other hand, Mediterranean landscapes are characterized by perennial crops and small fields (0.5-2 ha) which contribute to a mosaic considered integral to tourism. Farms are also small by northern European standards but produce higher-value products such as grapes, olives, fruits and vegetables. Calabria has conditions and an output mix (fruits and olives) that are similar to those found in Spain and Greece. Marche has features closer to continental agriculture, having a mix of arable crops and wine- grapes.

Table 12.1. Farm and landscape structure of selected regions

Sweden

Italy

Czech

Republic

Jonkoping

Vasterbotten

Marche

Calabria

Vysocina

Indicator

Total UAA1

Ha

134 216

74 414

49 082

29 176

393 726

Lower limit on farm size

Ha

2

2

All farms

All farms

1

Number of farms

Nbr

3 824

2 506

5 785

10 626

3 433

Average farm size

Ha

35

30

8.5

2.7

114

Grassland area

% of Uaa

82

80

2

5

21

Livestock density

LU/ha

1.1

0.8

1.6

0.9

0.8

Normal yield (barley)

t/ha

3.5

2.3

4.1

-

5.2

Milk yield per cow

Kg/year

9 000

9 000

3

n.a.

7 260

6 175

Landscape structure

Share of agricultural land

%

14

n.a.3

85

85

77

Meidan block size

Ha

1.41

1.48

0.324

0.85

10.63

Mean block size

Ha

1.76

2.23

0.71

2.05

19.26

CV block size5

1.27

1 .36

1.61

1.87

1.26

n.a.: not applicable.

  • 1. Utilized Agricultural Area.
  • 2. Minimum area of land to be defined as a farm in statistics.
  • 3. Concentrated along river valleys.
  • 4. Arable land only.
  • 5. CV or Coefficient of Variation as indicator of variability in block size.
 
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