FA18 Agri-environmental support scheme
The Finnish agri-environmental support (AES) scheme consists of measures on three levels. All participating farmers have to apply five basic measures. These address cultivation planning, fertilization, plant protection and biodiversity management issues.
On top of the basic measures, all farmers are obliged to implement one additional basic measure, the choice of which has increased from 6 to 13 between second and third aid periods. The third level of measures of the AES are the special contracts that address more specialized environmental issues. They require more concerted actions on behalf of the farmer.
The best features of the Finnish AES are its scope, ample total financing and flexibility. The scheme covers 91% of all farms and 94% of arable land. The share AES of the total value of agricultural output amounts to 8-9%. Farmers may freely choose to apply those measures that best suit their own farms and interests.
In terms of biodiversity, its weaknesses arise from the facts that most of the AES funds are allocated to ineffective basic measures and that it in doing so resembles more a traditional income subsidy scheme than an ambitious environmental programme. Some of the requirements of the scheme are so trivial or vaquely defined that they can be met without almost any change in previous farming practices.
Mandatory basic measures
Of the mandatory measures, the establishment of field verges and protective strips holds the greatest potential in terms of biodiversity. Approximately xxxxx ha arable land has been allocated to this use in whole country. Since verges and strip have been established mainly on moist and nutrient rich sites on the grounds of water protection, their significance biodiversity has been so far quite low. According to studies drier, nutrient-poor and long-lasting verges of open xx ditches often hold considerable biodiversity values.
Additional basic measures
On the whole, the biodiversity effects of the additional basic measures have been meagre. Due to the large total area under winter vegetation cover (1.2 million ha) this measure has been generally regarded as the most effective. Winter cover has been shown to benefit some birds, soil fauna and invertebrates over-wintering on arable land. Most other additional basic measures address more uniformly only water protection issues. These benefit biodiversity in inland waters and the Baltic Sea to some degree, but have little or no relevance to farmland species.
Two of the most important special contracts are addressed in indicators FA15 Management of traditional rural biotopes and FA16 Organic farming. This indicator addresses the most biodiversity-relevant of the remaining 10 special contract issues...
- Updated (22.10.2014)