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Agriculture belongs among the oldest and the most important human activities. From the first moment agriculture had been changing countryside of Europe together with living conditions for many of plant and animal species. Thanks to these impacts the European nature has become more varied and also richer in species. But what has survived for centuries can be destroyed by the European Union’s agriculture policy very fast.
A new study on the population trends of wild birds, published by BirdLife International, shows that across Europe - from Spain to Poland - the numbers of 24 widespread farmland birds, including skylarks, lapwings and yellowhammers, have crashed on average by more than 30 % since 1980. In Great Britain even such a common species as Tree Sparrow or Skylark have declined by 95 % and 52 %, respectively. In France the population of Black-tailed Godwit has decreased from 90,000 to 45,000 breeding pairs in only 15 years. The most important reasons for these declines are intensive agriculture, urbanisation and changes of landscape structure. In new accession countries from Central and Eastern Europe, farmland wildlife has been still preserved in good conditions but dramatic decline of farmland birds is expected even there due to results of agriculture policy of the European Union.
The main goal of the project Agriculture and rural development in the Czech Republic, supported by Vogelbescherming Nederland, is to lobby for nature-friendly agriculture practices and to organise BirdLife International campaign for reform of the CAP (Common Agriculture Policy) in the Czech Republic. Our countryside is in danger and it is our responsibility to preserve this heritage for the future generations.
Results reached in 2003:
• New contacts were established and cooperation was started with either of the ministries (Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture) and with the Protected Landscape Area Administration, as well as with the officials who are in charge of the preparation and implementation of the Horizontal Plan of the Rural Development (HRDP), part of which the agri-environmental programmes are.
• The IBA caretaker groups attended a training session in Valtice in October 2003 aimed at agri-environmental programmes which are being prepared for all the IBAs. There were 11 meetings with farmers and community representatives held and the agri-environment scheme for the corncrake and meadow waders were presented at this occasion.
• Selection of the most suitable corncrake sites for the agri-environment scheme „Meadow Birds´ localities“ was carried out in co-operation with people who had mapped these sites.
• The Czech Republic joined the Birdlife International campaign for the reform of EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). An electronic petition is going to be the first step in 2004. Its aim is to support the CAP reform leading to sustainable agriculture.
Results reached in 2004:
• Participation in the working group established by the Ministry of Environment, which is focused on agricultural issues related to nature conservation. The group consists of representatives of government agencies, municipalities, protected areas and non-govermental organizations.
• Participation in the preparation of new agri-environment schemes for the period 2007-2012. Farmland birds are one of the goals which the new agri-environment schemes should be focused on. Results of the agri-environment scheme for the corncrake and waders are being monitored.
• BirdLife International cyberaction "Farming for Life" was launched in the Czech Republic at the new web page about agriculture and rural development, functioning under the CSO web site.
• Participation in the project called "Improving habitat quality for the comeback of Great Bustard" whose goal is to prepare a LIFE project for restoration of the former Great Bustard site in southern Moravia.
Funded by: Vogelbescherming Nederland, Birdlife International partner in the Netherlands.
Project coordinator: Václav Zámečník, CSO, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org