Institute of Rural Studies

Deputy Director


Anja Herkner

Bundesallee 64
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5501
Fax: +49 531 596 5599

Institute of Rural Economics

Deputy Director

  • NN

Effects of the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU on the conversion of biodiversity of grassland


flowering wet meadow (c) Thünen-Institut/Norbert Röder
Due to the Greening grassland in SPA must not be ploughed. (© Thünen-Institut/Norbert Röder)

Effects of the new policy framework of the CAP on the biodiversity of grasslands

Starting with the agricultural reform of 2013 new instruments for grassland conservation and protection have been adopted. They have been implemented with the intention to stop the strong decline of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. One of the crucial factors is the ongoing reduction of species-rich grassland.

Background and Objective

High prices of agricultural products and the growing use of biomass as an energy source increased the demand for a more intensive use of grassland. Especially the area of fallow and low input grassland areas was decreasing for a long time. To counter these trends the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU focused more on environmental objectives. Therefore in Germany the conversion of grassland into cropland is prohibited. Furthermore on European scale the definition of grassland has been broadened extending the areas for which direct payments may be obtained. Therefore also some of the biotopes valuable for nature conservation became eligible for funding. Our project addresses the resulting effects on nature conservation. We also assess the efficiency of the funding instruments applied in Germany.

Target Group

Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, farmers, consulting services, EU-commission


Based on data of the integrated accounting and control system (IACS) we analyze the development of the grassland area and its utilization intensity in the period 2010-2016 for 7 German Länder. We take into account information on site specific conditions and the local agricultural structure. Some of the analyzed factors are: agri-environmental schemes, location in a protected area, stocking density or slope. We will further link the IACS data with information of the monitoring schemes on High nature value farmland and meadow birds. Based on this newly derived dataset we intend to quantify the influence of changes in the land use on these environmental indicators and hopefully improve the extrapolation on the national level. In addition we will scan regional development programs on a European scale, identifying promising support schemes for species-rich grasslands.

We will provide recommendation for the future development of the CAP with respect to the protection of grassland.

Data and Methods

We use data of the integrated accounting and control system (IACS) to depict the agricultural land use. These data are analyzed with the help of geostatistical methods.

Our Research Questions

  • How can we explain the differences in the various statistics on grassland? Which relevance do these differences have for environmental protection?
  • Is the Greening contributing to a better protection of grasslands?
  • How do agri-environmental and climate schemes contribute to the protection of grassland?
  • How do the less-favored area payments contribute to the protection of?
  • How is HNV-grassland supported in other EU member states? 


The project will provide information

  • how did the area of permanent grassland evolve and
  • which connection exists between the intensity of land use and site condition and the agricultural structure.

Links and Downloads

Framework project: Analysis of the Greening


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
    (national, öffentlich)


11.2015 - 11.2019

More Information

Projekt type:
Project funding number: FKZ 3515 88 0100
Funding program: BMUB - Umweltforschungsplan
Project status: finished

Publications to the project

Results 11 - 12 of 12

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  1. Röder N, Schmidt TG, Osterburg B (2015) Grünland: Mehr als nur Viehfutter. Braunschweig: Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, 6 p, Thünen à la carte 1, DOI:10.3220/CA_1_2015
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 942 kb
  2. Osterburg B, Röder N, Schmidt TG (2014) Grünlandschutz in der GAP : Erfordernisse, Erfahrungen, Erwartungen. Loccumer Prot 2014,05:121-127

Results 11 - 12 of 12

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