SHOWCASE – Showcasing synergies between agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystem services

Farmers and the public may have different appreciations of large carnivores such as lynxes. Photo: shutterstock.com/Ondrej Prosicky


Farmland biodiversity is steeply declining in most regions of Europe and society at large is increasingly concerned about the loss of public goods, such as iconic wildlife and cultural landscapes.

There is a sound scientific understanding of the basic ecological principles needed to slow the decline in biodiversity or even reverse the losses. This knowledge however has not been translated into sufficiently widespread adoption of conservation measures by the farming sector.

To bend the trajectory of declining biodiversity, it is necessary to better understand and capitalize on:

  • the factors that influence farmers’ decisions to manage land for biodiversity;
  • the relationship between farm management and native biodiversity along with associated ecosystem service benefits or other benefits; and
  • how to build the most effective communication and knowledge exchange networks to inform farmers on how to integrate biodiversity into typical management practices efficiently and on the consequences, under the prevailing local conditions, of not doing so.

Integrating biodiversity into farming: the aim for a breakthrough

In the EU-funded SHOWCASE project, leading scientists in the field of agro-ecology and socio-economy join forces with farmer and citizen science networks, nature conservation NGOs, and science communication specialists, to achieve a breakthrough in the integration of biodiversity into farming.

The overall goal of SHOWCASE – “Showcasing synergies between agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystem services to help farmers capitalize on native biodiversity” – is to make biodiversity an integral part of European farming by identifying effective incentives to invest in biodiversity in diverse socio-ecological contexts.

The project will develop a multi-actor network of 10 experimental biodiversity areas in contrasting European farming systems that will be used for in-situ research on biodiversity incentives and evidence on benefits, as well as for knowledge exchange. This network will be used to identify and test biodiversity indicators and targets relevant to all stakeholders. These indicators and targets will be used in a learning-by-doing approach to improve benefits of biodiversity management on farms, both within the network and beyond.

 

The project also aims to mitigate carnivore–farmer conflicts, such as between wolves and sheep. Photo: shutterstock.com/mitastockimages

Best practices and policies to resolve trade-offs

The research led by CDE focuses on best practices and policies to resolve trade-offs related to farming and the management of large carnivores. The project will thus

  • synthesize the evidence base on large carnivores as direct or indirect ecosystem service or disservice providers;
  • assess factors impacting the acceptance of large carnivores by farmers and other stakeholders. It will do so by widening the perspective from depredation costs and compensation, to additional aspects (e.g. breeding values) that are often not reflected in average market prices used to calculate compensation amounts; and
  • evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of different policy measures (control and command, damage compensation, results based, private labels, etc.) in resolving carnivore-related conflicts.

Based on this, the project will formulate policy recommendations to mitigate carnivore–farmer conflicts, with particular focus on specific experimental biodiversity areas: Spain (Iberian lynx), Switzerland (wolf and lynx), Estonia (wolf and bear), Romania (wolf), and Hungary (jackal). The results may furthermore provide insights into drivers of farmland abandonment.

Further information
Main project website
Duration 2020 - 2025
Funding

European Commission Horizon 2020 Programme

Partners 16 Universities and research institutions in Europe, three private- industry partners, and civil society organizations (farmers unions, NGOs, nature conservation organizations)
Contact Dr. Astrid Zabel