The EU introduced the new “greening” instrument into the Common Agricultural Policy in 2015, with the intention to slow the rapid loss of biodiversity in agricultural areas. The idea is quite simple: in return to the subsidies they receive, farmers must now implement measures to protect wild animals and plants on their land. A group of scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the University of Göttingen and other German, Austrian and French institutions examined how effective the flagship greening measure called “Ecological Focus Areas” actually is. Their conclusions, now published in the scientific journal Conservation Letters, are sobering: Ecological Focus Areas are implemented in a way that provides little benefit for biodiversity or farmers, and yet come at a high price to tax payers. However, there are many possibilities to improve the measure for the benefit of all sides.
Waitrose has become the first retailer to successfully apply to lead the delivery of a major investment in doctoral training by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The money will be invested in 15 separate PhD projects focusing on food security and sustainability.