Amidst the growing emphasis on nature-focused decision making, SHOWCASE takes the opportunity to highlight some of its contributions to shaping and enhancing environmental policy on different scales.
SHOWCASE member Răzvan Popa (Babeș-Bolyai University) is a proud member of the Romanian National Strategic Plan (NSP) Coalition. The coalition consists of five NGOs including Fundația ADEPT which Răzvan is a part of. Within their policy work, he and his colleagues have put significant efforts into enhancing Romania’s CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 by distributing recommendations based on scientific findings and field observations to national and European policymakers, such as:
Grasslands are crucial for biodiversity and climate conservation. Their main threats in Romania are conversion to arable land, overgrazing, undergrazing and the lack of incentives for a nature-friendly land use outside High Nature Value (HNV) designated areas. In light of that, the NSP Coalition highlighted the importance of including eco-schemes targeting permanent grasslands and proposed diverse agri-environmental support covering a variety of grassland management possibilities, from less to more restrictive, in order to meet the needs of local farm communities and biodiversity conservation.
Forests and wetlands
The NSP coalition advocated for specific forestry practices, increased forest accessibility, and measures to compensate forest owners for applying restrictive forestry interventions since the NSP is currently the only source that can support forest owners/managers. Additionally, it highlighted the need to protect wetlands, such as those in the floodplain and the Danube Delta, to prevent their transformation into arable land.
Pollinators and beekeeping
Răzvan and his colleagues raised awareness of the importance of including references to pollinators in the NSP, emphasising their significance for agricultural crops. They proposed eco-schemes to support pollinator-friendly actions, such as planting species with rich pollen/nectar potential and eliminating preventive use of pesticides, as well as 1) for annual crops – sowing green/wildflower strips on at least 10% of the agricultural land without the application of pesticides and fertilisers; 2) for perennial crops – planting two other plant species/varieties with pollen/nectar resources in between perennial crops and without the application of pesticides.
To improve soil quality, the NSP coalition emphasised the need for longer crop rotation periods. Furthermore, it called for measures to ban herbicide use and encourage the inclusion of a wider range of species in crop rotations in order to bring benefits such as improving soil structure, providing high ground cover, soil disinfection, and attracting pollinators. Considering the indisputable benefits of crop rotation – from soil health to disease and pest control – the coalition also called for the reintroduction of the eco-scheme for crop rotation in arable land.
Species-related agri-environmental measures
With the disappearance of agri-environment measures available in most plain areas, farmers are likely to give up pastures and convert them into arable land, accelerating the loss of biodiversity. In light of this, Răzvan and his colleagues stressed the importance of preserving agri-environmental measures, particularly for protected bird and butterfly species in Romania. They called for the improvement and preservation of certain agri-environmental packages in the plan, ensuring they are suitable for species protection and farm structure.
Farmer pesticide training
The coalition urged for the plan to encourage widespread dissemination, awareness, and capacity-building for farmers regarding pesticide use. It emphasised the need for preventive instead of reactive training for all professional pesticide users to promote sustainable pesticide use and prevent long-term negative effects on nature and human health.
The NSP coalition advocated for social conditionality in the allocation of direct payments, ensuring farm workers' rights, safe working conditions, access to health and social insurance, and the elimination of discrimination and exploitation.
Răzvan and his colleagues continue to work on improving agri-environmental measures in Romania and look forward to seeing the NSP implemented and, hopefully, improved over time. SHOWCASE is excited to see these recommendations aiming to safeguard sustainable agricultural practices, foster a more harmonious coexistence between farming and biodiversity and contribute to incentives increasing biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Photo: Sunflowers in Suceava, Romania.