EU cuts threaten wildlife conservation on agricultural land

Scientists fear cuts to the EU budget could threaten the continued persistence of wildlife on agricultural landscapes. Up to £400 million worth of funding provided through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) could be stopped as a result of government spending cuts. Conservation groups are warning such action could prove disastrous for some farmland species, and threaten the recovery of those already endangered such as the cirl bunting and turtle dove.

Under the current terms of the CAP, farmers are able to receive payments in return for developing projects on their land that are designed to encourage local biodiversity. Such incentives have seen great success, and played a vital role in the conservation of species sensitive to agricultural practices that may have otherwise experienced a population decline. However as part of the current CAP reform ‘Pillar 2’ funding – the money available to farmers who practice methods beneficial to the environment and biodiversity could be scrapped.

Martin Harper, Conservation Director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said he was “staggered” by the idea, fearing that wildlife corridors such as hedges and water ways could also be affected.

The government has however stated that the current biodiversity subsidies in place are ‘good value’ and that cuts should be targeted towards CAP subsidies assigned for food production instead. Proposals for the new EU budget will be announced later this month on 29th June.