Quantifying the impact of land-use change to European farmland bird populations

S. J. Butler, L. Boccaccio, R. D. Gregory, P. Vorisek, K. Norris

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172 Citations (Scopus)


The EU has adopted the European Farmland Bird Index (EFBI) as a Structural and Sustainable Development Indicator and a proxy for wider biodiversity health on farmland. Changes in the EFBI over coming years are likely to reflect how well agri-environment schemes (AES), funded under Pillar 2 (Axis 2) of the Common Agricultural Policy, have been able to offset the detrimental impacts of past agricultural changes and deliver appropriate hazard prevention or risk mitigation strategies alongside current and future agricultural change. The delivery of a stable or positive trend in the EFBI will depend on the provision of sufficient funding to appropriately designed and implemented AES. We present a trait-based framework which can be used to quantify the detrimental impact of land-use change on farmland bird populations across Europe. We use the framework to show that changes in resource availability within the cropped area of agricultural landscapes have been the key driver of current declines in farmland bird populations. We assess the relative contribution of each Member State to the level of the EFBI and explore the relationship between risk contribution and Axis 2 funding allocation. Our results suggest that agricultural changes in each Member State do not have an equal impact on the EFBI, with land-use and management change in Spain having a particularly large influence on its level, and that funding is poorly targeted with respect to biodiversity conservation needs. We also use the framework to predict the EFBI in 2020 for a number of land-use change scenarios. This approach can be used to guide both the development and implementation of targeted AES and the objective distribution of Pillar 2 funds between and within Member States. We hope that this will contribute to the cost-effective and efficient delivery of Rural Development strategy and biodiversity conservation targets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-357
Number of pages10
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Issue number3-4
Early online date2 Apr 2010
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2010

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