Nature-based farming solutions have been identified by a group of Irish scientists to help address the climate and biodiversity emergency.
Head of UCC Ornithology, professor John Quinn, a member of the CAP4Aature group, which made its views known at a National Biodiversity Forum workshop, said the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has dramatically improved agricultural output and rural development over the past 50 years.
“But it has also come at an enormous cost to wildlife and the ecosystem services provided by nature.
"This is coming back to bite us because the environment upon which we rely is in serious decline. It is time to make sure that in the next round of CAP funding works for people and for nature,” he said.
Mr Quinn said figures from Birdwatch Ireland and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Northern Ireland show 63% of 202 regularly breeding species have a poor conservation status and many are threatened with extinction.
Declines are also found in flowers, plants and insects. Increasing use of herbicides and pesticides, loss of habitat and nesting sites due to hedgerow cutting, reduction in field margins, switching from hay to silage, and removal of scrub are the main reasons.
Mr Quinn said most money spent on nature protection comes, somewhat surprisingly, from the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine. But, unfortunately, this has had little or no positive impact on protecting nature.
“Our aim is to provide the Government with some guiding principles to ensure that the next round of CAP works for nature and benefits farming in the process,” he said.