A new opportunity to support the bird-friendly land-management. Choosing the proper management methods, farmers can do the most for preserving naturalness of arable lands, grasslands and grazed lands.
Priority support of the bird and small game-friendly management methods was possible partly due to two projects of MME, one of them is the „Sustainable nature conservation on Hungarian Natura 2000 sites”, supported financially by the Swiss-Hungarian Cooperation Programme while the other is the Helicon Life project.
Furthermore, the Jászság High Nature Value Farmland, an important habitat for small game and imperial eagles, was established because of the proposal prepared within the framework of HELCION Life project.
Populations of common bird and small game species linked to agricultural habitats have decreased drastically all over Europe. The process is well obvious in Hungary, as well; among our small game species the grey partridge is in critical situation and the number of the common hare has also shrunk significantly. Recent studies showed that changes in certain parts of management practice may slow down or even reverse negative natural processes. National researches demonstrated that populations of bird species living in areas supported with agri-environmental financial aid have been decreasing to a lesser degree than in other areas.
Grey partridge is one of the bird species threatened by intensive agricultural practices
(Photo: József Mészáros).
The recently announced agri-environmental call for proposals covering the period 2016-2020 contains new possibilities for bird-friendly land management. Before, only designated High Value Natural Areas may have benefited from nature conservation payments, but now some new elements incorporated in the system may help protect biodiversity in the whole country.
Regulations to increase production of legumes and fodder crops, fallow lands, as well as, keeping bee-friendly edges will improve natural habitat on agricultural lands. Rules (e.g. bird-friendly mowing, leaving unmown areas) regulating the harvest on these new valuable habitats and on grasslands as well will not only benefit bird and small game species but also mitigate negative effects on amphibians, reptiles and insects.
The new aid scheme gives high priority to establish and keep small parcels, which increase the length of edges, therefore ecological corridors once widespread in agricultural lands, may revive. In addition to formerly available aid for establishing more grasslands and hedges, this new support scheme offers financial aid to keep permanent fallow lands and establish bee-friendly edges on the title of non-productive investment aiming habitat restoration.
The new scheme offers a unique opportunity for agri-environmental land management to protect biodiversity. Its success depends on the number of farmers and the area of land involved in it.
In order to provide people as much information about new possibilities as possible, we prepared information materials for farmers and we also participated in a cross-country information event organized by the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture. During the series of events, we reached and informed 1300 village extension officers and agricultural consultants at six different places about available opportunities of biodiversity protection, and also gave them informational packages.
Therefore, we are asking every farmer to choose the agri-environmetal regulations aiming nature conservation and help the populations of bird and small game species and save biodiversity!
Further information about the proposal: http://palyazat.gov.hu/megjelent_az_agrar_kornyezetgazdalkodasi_kifizetes_cimu_felhivas
Brochures, flyers, informational leaflets about bird-friendly farming: http://natura.2000.hu/hu/hirek/kiadvanyok-gazdalkodoknak
Handbook about the agri-environmental measures published by the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture: http://nak.hu/images/Egyseges-kerelem/AKG-Kezikonyv.pdf