The slow adoption by the agricultural sector of practices to promote biodiversity are thought to originate from three interrelated issues. First, we know little about which incentives effectively motivate farmers to integrate biodiversity into daily farm management. Second, few studies so far have produced evidence that biodiversity-based approaches produce benefits in terms of key variables for farmers (yield, profit). Third, there is a large communication gap between the scientists investigating biodiversity-based farming practices and the farmers that have to implement them.
To overcome these barriers, SHOWCASE will review and test the effectiveness of a range of economic and societal incentives to implement biodiversity management in farming operations and examine farmer and public acceptance. Focus will be on three promising approaches: (i) result-based incentives, (ii) involvement in citizen science biodiversity monitoring and (iii) biodiversity-based business models. SHOWCASE will co-produce together with stakeholders a solid interdisciplinary evidence for the agro-ecological and socio-economic benefits of biodiversity management in 10 contrasting farming systems across Europe. SHOWCASE will also design communication strategies that are tailor-made to farmers and other key stakeholders operating in different socio-economic and environmental conditions.
SHOWCASE 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 for benefits as well as knowledge exchange. This network will be used to identify and test biodiversity indicators and targets relevant to all stakeholders and use them in a learning-by-doing approach to improve benefits of biodiversity management on farms both within the network and beyond.
Biodiversity conservation is firmly embedded in EU legislation and regulatory frameworks. There is also
increasing recognition of the pivotal role biodiversity plays in maintaining productive farming systems
through the pollination, natural pest regulation and soil services it provides. Yet, practices aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity often degrade native and domestic biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. At the same time, the current economic paradigm contributes to the abandonment of agriculturally marginal areas where extensive farming practices still maintain high biodiversity levels. As a consequence, 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.
Over the past few years, the evidence base underlying effective biodiversity conservation on farmland has
steadily strengthened, with studies demonstrating that management can increase biodiversity and enhance the delivery of a range of regulating and supporting ecosystem services (e.g. Blaauw & Isaacs 2014, Pywell et al. 2015)). We now have a sound understanding of the basic ecological principles that are necessary to slow down or reverse biodiversity losses. However, this has not yet resulted in adoption of biodiversity
management by the farming sector at a scale sufficient for significant biodiversity benefits. Sustainable
restoration of farmland biodiversity needs an internalization of biodiversity into farming practices and
businesses. To achieve this we need to better understand and utilize: (i) the factors that influence farmers’
decisions to manage land for biodiversity; (ii) the relationship between farm management and native
biodiversity along with associated ecosystem service benefits or other benefits; and (iii) how to build the most effective communication and knowledge exchange networks to inform farmers about how they can efficiently integrate biodiversity into typical management practices, and what the consequences are under the local conditions.
In SHOWCASE, leading scientists in the field of agro-ecology and socio-economy join forces with farmer
and citizen science networks, nature conservation NGO’s and science communication specialists to achieve a breakthrough in the integration of biodiversity into farming. The overall objective of SHOWCASE is:
To make biodiversity an integral part of European farming by identifying effective incentives to invest in
biodiversity in diverse socio-ecological contexts, providing the evidence that these incentives result in
biodiversity increases and biodiversity-based, socio-economic benefits, and communicating both the
principles and best practices to as wide a range of stakeholders as possible.
Our specific objectives are:
To establish a long-lasting European multi-actor network of Experimental Biodiversity Areas (EBAs)
for the development, testing and showcasing, together with farmers, of approaches to effectively integrate
biodiversity into farm management across different European landscapes.
To identify, along a broad gradient of land use from intensification to abandonment, which economic,
agro-ecological and social factors incentivise farmers to actively support biodiversity on their farms.
To establish, with farmers, a strong evidence base on public and private goods, as well as costs, associated
with promoting native biodiversity, in a range of European farming systems and socio-economic contexts.
To co-develop with stakeholders, methods, tools and indicators to monitor and evaluate biodiversity and
ecosystem services against operational biodiversity targets at appropriate temporal and spatial scales and
governance levels, and establish harmonized sets of data on native biodiversity.
To develop and implement inspirational narratives to communicate the benefits of biodiversity to farmers,
and beyond, and to make available easily accessible information on best practices for integration of
biodiversity in farm management.