Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Symposium 137: Biodiversity-friendly food labels and certification: perspectives for the European agriculture and conservation policy
Thursday, 20/June/2024:
2:30pm - 4:00pm

Session Chair: Tanja Šumrada
Location: Room D - Belmeloro Complex

Via Beniamino Andreatta, 8, 40126 Bologna

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Comparative case study analysis of biodiversity-friendly food certification schemes and businesses in Europe

Tanja Šumrada1, Živa Alif2

1University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical faculty, Slovenia; 2University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical faculty, Slovenia

European Commission recently published several high-level documents, including the “Farm-to-Fork” and the EU Biodiversity strategies, which call for better food market transparency and higher ambition in fighting against biodiversity loss. It has also committed to empowering consumers to make informed, healthy and sustainable food choices and to promote certification schemes and standards for sustainable food systems. However, attempts to create biodiversity-friendly standards have often failed due to their inability to secure successful business models or to gain sufficient market access. Furthermore, the existing certification schemes, including organic farming, contain limited criteria in the field of biodiversity conservation. Setting up a biodiversity-friendly business requires adopting an innovative approach to organising producers, governance structures and marketing strategies. For such innovations to diffuse into wider use in the food systems, they need to demonstrate advantageous characteristics, enable utilisation by a suitable group of adopters and appear in a favourable socio-economic context. In our study, we use the diffusion of innovations theory as a theoretical framework to analyse eight biodiversity-friendly certification schemes. We aim to discern variables that may critically shape the mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation in the European food systems' certification and marketing strategies.

A Credit Point System for assessing and enhancing biodiversity at the farm scale - and beyond

Simon Birrer, Judith Zellweger-Fischer

Swiss Ornithological Institute, Switzerland

Farmland biodiversity cannot be easily and directly measured. Therefore, we developed the Credit Point System (CPS). This system acts as a comprehensive tool, capturing all biodiversity-promoting efforts at the farm level. By completing the CPS, farmers receive a point score, serving as a proxy for the overall biodiversity initiatives on their farm.

Farmers can accumulate points by applying 34 different measures. In Switzerland it is obligatory to manage at least 7% of the utilised agricultural area (UAA) as biodiversity promoting areas (BPAs). These mandatory BPAs contribute to the biodiversity score, along with factors like ecological quality and spatial distribution. Points are adjusted for farm size, land-use type and production zone. Furthermore, scores are weighted based on previously researched benefits for biodiversity; for example, larger-sized species-rich flower meadows yield more points compared to simple no-input meadows.

The Credit Point System was evaluated by the Swiss Ornithological Institute and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL from 2009 to 2015. Since then, it has been implemented by the producer’s organization for integrated farming, IP-Suisse. Achieving a minimum biodiversity score is now mandatory for approximately 10’000 farmers producing for IP-Suisse.

Farmers’ preferences for biodiversity labelling in four European countries

Kati Häfner

Leibniz Centre for Agricultural landscape research (ZALF), Germany

Biodiversity labels, designed to certify and highlight biodiversity benefits of agricultural practices to consumers, can provide new business opportunities for farmers. While some research exists on consumer preferences for biodiversity labels, no evidence exists on the acceptance of such labels among farmers. To assess the acceptance of potential biodiversity labels we run a large-scale survey among farmers in four countries across Europe (NL, RO, UK, EE). Via discrete choice experiments (DCEs) we assess the influence of biodiversity labels on the acceptance of dark green measures, i.e. extensive hedgerow (management and planting), and high nature value grasslands. We consider the options of international and regional labelling. We find varying preferences of farmers for biodivesity labelling between the different countries, ranging from a higher preference for the regional label in Estonia, to a preference for the international label in UK, to an overall aversion of the proposed labels in The Netherlands.

Do protected areas contribute to the shift of farmers cultural norms towards nature-friendly farming? A Slovenian Perspective

Ana Novak, Živa Alif, Luka Juvančič, Tanja Šumrada

Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Policy mechanisms, such as agri-environmental measures, have the potential to (re)shape farmers' cultural norms and behaviours in the context of nature conservation. Protected area (PA) management activities, as a backbone of European conservation efforts, are expected to exert a similar impact. While existing research has explored farmers' attitudes towards PAs, scant attention has been given to understanding how PAs and their management contribute to shaping farmers' norms regarding nature conservation. In our study, we interviewed 48 Slovenian farmers in three PAs, employing the Bourdieusian-inspired 'good farming' construct. Qualitative analysis reveals that the current PA management system in Slovenia may have a limited positive impact on shifting cultural norms or could even act counterproductively. The predominant productivism perspective significantly shapes the norms associated with being a 'good farmer.' Despite farmers acknowledging the importance of multifunctional agriculture, the adoption of nature-friendly farming norms is restricted. The findings underscore the need to strengthen collaboration between farmers and PA managing authorities, which could take place through the promotion of localized knowledge exchange, active involvement of the local ‘good farmers’ in the PA management, and result-oriented incentives that enable inclusion of the biodiversity conservation farming practices in the social capital of local farmers.

The Great Big Nature Survey: understanding public opinions of nature and conservation across the United Kingdom

Aidan Keane1, Daniel Barrios-O'Neill2, Janet Fisher1, George Holmes3, Ellesse Janda1, Rogelio Luque-Lora1,4, Chris Sandbrook4

1University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom; 2Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, United Kingdom; 3University of Leeds, United Kingdom; 4University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Public opinions shape the success of conservation efforts, yet remain understudied and poorly understood. In this talk I will introduce the Great Big Nature Survey, a large-scale, annual survey developed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts in collaboration with academic researchers which aims to understand public opinions of nature and conservation across the UK. The survey, which includes questions on four broad themes - (1) actions taken to help nature, (2) nature’s role in wellbeing, (3) attitudes about the goals of conservation, and how they should be achieved, and (4) the most significant threats to nature - was first launched in March 2023, and since then has been taken by >18,000 respondents. I will describe the process of creating the survey, which included the development of a set of novel psychometric scales for measuring public attitudes towards conservation interventions, present findings from the first year of the survey and describe our plans for future work.

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