Greening: Useful approach...

...but implementation needs improvement.

Falconers ask for protection of biodiversity in Brussels


“The protection of our natural capital is of very high priority for me. If everyone gets involved, we could solve the problem of decreasing biodiversity. GREENING might be a potential and useful approach, even if it is not my ideal conception”, said MP Karl-Heinz FLORENZ.

On the 12th of August 2015, Dr. Michael Greshake and Stephan Wunderlich, members of the IAF- Working Group for Biodiversity have been welcomed by Karl-Heinz FLORENZ, Member of the European Parliament and President of the Parliamentary Intergroup „Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside“ in Groß-Opholt, Germany. FLORENZ manages a family-owned conventional farming estate.

The reason for this meeting was the loss of species of the open farmland, that are considered to be essential for falconers: no game, no falconry. During the meeting, both falconers clearly pointed out, that there is much more at stake than “only” the loss of game: the loss of biodiversity is closely linked to the quality of water, soil and air as well as to our climate. In the broadest sense the issue raised concerns the sustainable conservation of the environment, attractive landscapes and our agricultural land. Confronting him with this perception would be like “preaching to the converted” Mr FLORENZ said. Still, he mentioned, that this perspective causes personal difficulties in being accepted by Presidents and officials of the farming sector.

It was agreed during the meeting, that a lot is yet unknown, regarding the reasons for the loss of biodiversity, but that a lot is known about how to improve the situation. FLORENZ still promotes voluntary measures for farmers in order no longer keep them in leading-strings. However, it was also noticed, that these voluntary measures are used less and less in Germany, due to e.g. the daily loss of farmland and the increasing area used for energy crops.

„Well implemented GREENING-measures in the framework of the Common Agricultural Politic might be a good alternative. “The current GREENING is not in my favourite field of expertise, but it was agreed upon by 28 European Member States and must now be implemented and used in the right way. To achieve this, all the stakeholders need to sit at one table and work on reasonable concepts.” stated Mr FLORENZ. Catch crop cultivation for example, though accepted as GREENING-measure, in most cases doesn´t lead to measurable positive effects on biodiversity. “This is exactly what we were practicing at Groß-Opholt for years. There was no positive effect on biodiversity”, FLORENZ said.

The participants of the meeting agreed that areas, dedicated to halt the loss of biodiversity on farmland, would have to be non-fertilized nor treated with systemic plant protecting products (as recommended by the German Ministry for environment/BMU). In addition, these areas would have to be exposed to direct sunlight in order to show a certain vegetation. Regarding the question of Mr FLORENZ on how to exactly create such areas, Dr GRESHAKE said that “This very much depends on the objective of protection”. Protecting (wild) pollinators requires different kinds of vegetation then the protection of honey bees, for example. If partridge is in the focus of conservation efforts, the type of the respective areas again has to be completely different. The decisions must be made on site by farmers, hunters, conservationists, beekeepers and fishermen in common. Mr. FLORENZ does find such procedure hard to be realized and asks for simple solutions,

Best agricultural practice methods are essential for these areas or, as Jeff Coates of Syngenta said: those sites have to be managed as crop. The formerly rich biodiversity of central Europe was actually triggered by farming methods. Nowadays biodiversity is sometimes negatively affected by farming methods. Only a common approach with farmers will lead to an improvement. According to FLORENZ, one reason for the often low acceptance of GREENING measures amongst farmers is a lack of knowledge-transfer to those, who are affected by the GREENING. Mr FLORENZ suggested to organize a common event in the framework of the Intergoup Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside on the topic of GREENING and Biodiversity in order to make the Members of the Parliament more aware of this important topic, especially with regard to the review of the GAP in 2015 and 2016.

During the conversation FLORENZ pointed out several times that the implementation of EU-legislation is done by regional ministries. Therefore hunters and other conservationists have to insist in further discussions.