Swiss ornithological station, 6204 Sempach

Assessing biodiversity at the farm scale using a credit point system

There has been a drastic decline in farmland biodiversity in recent decades. In spite of direct payments for ecological compensation areas (ECA), specifically for their connectivity and ecological quality, there has been no general recovery in the populations of many species of farmland flora and fauna. While discernibly positive effects of agricultural biodiversity measures have largely been demonstrated at field level, practicable methods for the assessment of biodiversity at the farm scale have largely been lacking, despite the fact that ultimately it is the farm-level implementation of measures that determines their success or failure. In order to assess farm-level biodiversity measures, a credit point system (CPS) was developed. Applying the CPS to 133 farms in the Swiss Central Plateau region, we have shown that the CPS scores correlate with a number of biodiversity indicators (species richness and abundance of plants, butterflies, grasshoppers and breeding birds) and that the point score is therefore reflective of farm-level biodiversity. Meanwhile, the farming organisation IP-SUISSE has passed a biodiversity directive according to which farmers producing under the IP-Suisse label must now reach a minimum point score. Bio Suisse has similarly amended its standards, so that organic farmers must now undertake biodiversity measures. We expect that, in their totality, the additional biodiversity measures undertaken by farmers producing under these labels will result in a substantial enhancement of farmland biodiversity in Switzerland. Key words: ecological compensation areas

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