Geoblogger’s Blog

Geography, GIS, history, landscape, life

How many trees in a pasture?

The Common agricultural policy (CAP) and environmental work in the European Union is not always easy to understand. Farmers have to endure changes every time the system changes. Changes that affect income, mode of production or even ownership properties. The latest thing that has vexed the Swedish farmers, at least some, is that the EU has decided that the number of trees in a grazing area has to be a certain number. It has to be less than 50 trees per hectare. How the wise people in the central European bureaucracy has come to this conclusion I do not know. It could be that pastures in southern Europe have less vegetation, whereas the traditional pasture in Scandinavia has been forested to some extent. This change in regulations will lead to that many traditional pasture areas will be reclassified as forest thus depriving the land-owner of the income these lands have generated as areas of high biodiversity. If the farmer wants to keep the subsidies ha will have to cut down the trees so the land follows the EU-norm. That could be hundred-year old oaks and other trees that have stood there for centuries. There has been attempts to change persuade the minster of agriculture to do something about this and now not only famers’ associations have become involved but also environmental groups such as WWF. Media and also the scientific community has been mobilized. Everyone saying more or less: don’t let the EU decide the number of trees in Swedish pastures. The Minister of Agriculture Eskil Erlandsson writes on his webpage that he has increased the number of trees to 60 in the national regulations and that this has taken 1500 manhours for him and his staff in negotiations with the buerocrats. The pastures could also be funded by transfering money från the agricultural subsidies to environmental funds. As a farmer himself from Southern Sweden he also thinks that the regulations from Brussels are propostrous! (Swedish: befängt). He finishes his text and hopes that this will change in 2013, when everthin is to be changed again. That is way beond the next Swedish election.

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