Why is supporting the farmers for the biodiversity-positive practices necessary?

Only 3% of the species of community importance within agricultural environments are in a favourable state of conservation.

This dire percentage can be explained by the disintegration of their habitat and food resources, especially insects. Hence, 10% of the butterflies have disappeared in only 11 years within the Natura 2000 network. In some environments, this tendency has gone from bad to worse: indeed, the “EU Grassland Butterfly Indicator” shows a fall of 39% in the number of meadow butterfly species.

The agricultural practices put into question specifically include:

  • Modifications brought to the environment

Ploughing or monoculture, the retreat of meadows, the loss of nearly 8000 ha/year of tree or hedge alignments and, on a more global scale, the homogenisation of agricultural landscapes have a part to play in the division, disintegration or even the destruction of habitats for many a species.

Thus, 15 to 20% of the nesting birds are affected by how our grounds are used. For instance, within our territory, the little bustard headcount has significantly dropped since 10 years due to the retreat of the alfalfa patches and the predominance of field crops.

  • The use of crop protection products

While herbicides decrease the area of occupancy of the wild grass, which represents an important food source, the insecticides directly shrink the size of the insect populations.

If the products are used persistently, over a large surface, by air or repeatedly, their impacts will therefore be multiplied by ten.

Nevertheless, the sale of crop protection products has risen of 12% by year in the Gard since 2008, finally reaching more than 2000 tons in 2018. In spite of the trend for improvement, the quantities remain important.

The farmers need biodiversity (75% of the food crops depend on animal pollination) and biodiversity needs farmers (30% of the habitats of community importance).

It is therefore necessary to support and develop the agricultural practices in favour of the habitats and prey species (especially insects) on which the local bird and chiropteran species of community importance depend: woodlark, tawny pipit, great rhinolophe, lesser mouse-eared bat, etc.

What does the farmers’ support imply?

  • By talking to the local farmers and carrying out a comparative study, a situational analysis of the local agricultural practices may be achieved. It would involve identifying the incentives and obstacles to the implementation of biodiversity-positive practices, identifying the farmers’ needs and outlining the existing good practices to value and spread.
  • By analysing the farm, 15 volunteer farmers shall benefit from a multi-partnership technical support, lead by the FD CIVAM of the Gard, gathering the Chamber of Agriculture of the Gard, the SMGG, the Occitanian Natural Spaces Conservatory and the Ornithological Center of the Gard. It would involve supporting the implementation upon one patch, or more, biodiversity-positive practices, involving building facilities suitable for the targeted species and their prey (hedges, trees within the patches, nesting boxes, etc.), grass-growing, the cultivation of permanent pastures or alfalfa stands, the use of sustainable seeds and products, the alternatives to crop protection products, etc.
  • Five pilot projects, thought through on the farm’s level, may benefit from an additional material support: making sure the farmers have access to seeds, equipment, providers, etc.
  • The volunteer farmers shall join the Agricultural Monitoring Centre for Biodiversity, a national tool for monitoring the biodiversity’s sate, dedicated to farmers. They shall carry out four protocols of standardised monitoring.

The project throughout time

  1. Step 01 - 2022

    Analysis of territorial agricultural practices

  2. Step 02 - Spring 2023

    Sending out an application call for five pilot projects

  3. Step 03 - 2023

    Analysis of the farms

  4. Step 04 - From Spring 2023 to Spring 2026

    Supporting the 20 farmers

  5. Étape 05 - From Spring 2023 to Spring 2026

    Observatoire Agricole de la Biodiversité (Agricultural Monitoring Centre for Biodiversity)