Climate-smart agriculture and forestry projects help turn EU policies into action

EU-funded projects on climate-smart agriculture and forestry help turn policy goals into concrete action and could be further scaled up to enhance impacts, concluded a workshop organised by the European Commission and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) on 1 June.

The workshop showcased 17 examples of climate-friendly agriculture and forestry projects funded by the EU's LIFE and Horizon 2020 programmes. The first of its kind, the event gathered around 150 participants including project promoters, foresters and farmers, practitioners, environmental NGOs and policy-makers to discuss innovative approaches that contribute towards the EU's climate goals.
Agriculture-focused projects, ranging from regional to country-specific and pan-EU initiatives, highlighted successful examples of climate mitigation on farms. In Greece and Spain, tree crop producers are working on increasing the carbon intake of orange and olive trees. In Mediterranean countries hit by droughts, farmers and researchers are developing tools to assess soil quality and find the most effective ways to manage soil carbon. In France, Ireland, Italy and Spain, 2,000 beef farms are working together with livestock institutes to reduce their carbon footprint by 15%.
As for forestry, impressive modelling and data collection tools have been developed to track sinks and sources of carbon in boreal forests. Strategies and tools have been designed to verify the effectiveness of forest management strategies, while accounting for trade-offs with other forest roles (timber production, bioenergy, biodiversity and climate action). Projects in Latvia and the Netherlands presented remarkable examples of peatland restoration and voluntary carbon markets.
Discussions centred on concrete operational measures that could be rolled out on a larger scale, gaps and barriers that need to be overcome and the support needed to expand and replicate successful results.
Participants recognised the important role of EU financing in facilitating the development and testing of innovative ways to turn policy goals into action on the ground. Funded projects contribute to the creation of new knowledge and the implementation of EU climate objectives, yet further work is needed to help scale up and build on effective approaches in order to expand their impact.
EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "Agriculture and forestry have a key role to play in the fight against climate change. Projects supported by LIFE and Horizon 2020 are showing us the way to more sustainable farms and forests. The next step is to replicate the best innovative solutions and roll them out across the EU."
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said: "Farmers and foresters are our boots on the ground offering real solutions to our climate challenge. We need to invest more in climate-smart agriculture if we want to meet our climate objectives. The CAP supports farmers in adapting their management practices accordingly. The knowledge gathered in LIFE and Horizon 2020 projects helps identify and implement best practice."
LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU.
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014-2020).
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