In Germany, 181 local Landcare associations (LCA) work together with farmers and local communities to preserve and care for our cultural landscapes that have grown over centuries. How these Landcare associations work and what projects they carry out is described here.
Landcare Germany (DVL) is the umbrella organisation for 175 Landcare Associations (LCA) in Germany.
These regional non-governmental organisations implement regional nature conservation measures together with local farmers, nature conservation organisations and municipalities. These interest groups work together in the LCA on a voluntary and equal basis.
In the past, farming and self-sufficiency have led to diverse cultural landscapes with mountain meadows, rough pastures, hedges and orchard meadows. Nowadays, by pooling interests and local forces, LCA implement integrated and sustainable land management in many rural areas of Germany.
The goal is to protect endangered biodiversity, re-create biotope networks, and support sustainable regional and agricultural development.
Local Landcare Associations (LCA)
LCAs usually work at county or district level. The coordinators in the LCAs develop nature conservation projects on the ground aligned with the specific landscape type. This includes financial calculations, handling of funding requirements and scientific evaluation. They apply for (government) funds and monitor the implementation and project results.
As a rule, the measures are implemented by local farmers. The Landcare coordinators are training the farmers in tailor-made agricultural practices for preserving biodiversity. Therefore, they combine traditional knowledge with scientific findings. At the same time, the farmers are able to generate a sustainable income from such landscape conservation activities and thus to maintain their farms with their biological and structural diversity.
The main success factor is close cooperation of farmers, local communities, nature conservation groups and government agencies. The LCAs in Germany work with around 10,000 farmers, more than 2,000 local communities and 1,200 nature conservation NGOs. They generate around 20 million Euro per year for practical projects on the ground.
As part of this commitment, LCAs also initiate sustainable regional development. They are bringing together regional stakeholders in rural areas. They help farmers to market their quality products such as apple juice or lamb. We call these products also "nature conservation products" because they produce biodiversity as side effect. As soon as regional marketing starts, an increasing cash flow can be observed on the local market.
Landcare Europe is a network of several European organizations to exchange experiences. They all work in the field of implementing European Environmental Policy and achieving common goals at the European level.
Landcare Europe is a network of European organisations working towards common goals and contributing ideas to European environmental policy. The core element of these organisations is to work with farmers on achieving local biodiversity goals. The common vision is to protect and develop European cultural landscapes together with land users.
For the DVL, one important goal is to strengthen the network in the upcoming years. The network is built with partners in the following countries:
- The Netherlands
In 2017 DVL and its partners presented in Brussels the network Landcare Europe and the Public Goods Bonus for the European Agricultural Policy after 2020.
The Carpathian Mountains, especially the mountain meadow grass-lands, are a biodiversity hot-spot in Europe. Extensive management of them is necessary in order to conserve them. However, structural changes in the agricultural sector in Romania as a result of its accession to the European Union threaten these grasslands. The threats originate either from land abandonment and following natural reforestation or intensification of grassland use. Both developments would result in a loss of biodiversity. Continuing extensive use of the grassland can only be achieved if land users are able to achieve a sufficient income for themselves and for their families. Cooperation of land users, nature conservationists or environmentalists and local authorities can contribute to the sustainable use of the land.
The goal of the project is to encourage and promote cooperative approaches to conserve the cultural landscape in the Carpathian Mountains, whilst improving the living conditions of local people (farmers) at the same time. In dialogues with authorities and stakeholders, the main activities and resourcing requirements for cooperation in the target region will be discussed. A one-week-training for the Romanian partner organization in Germany will support the exchange of experiences of German Landcare Associations to Romania. Additionally experiences, knowledge and lessons of cooperative nature conservation in Germany will be transferred to the target region. Finally, future collaboration and exchange of expertise beyond completion of the project to implement European goals for the protection of biodiversity is encouraged.
The European Union offers the possibility to exchange work experiences with other European organizations. Several goups from forgein countries already have had the chance to visit Germany and to discuss with Landcare Assiociation about their work. It is very important to exchange on European Environmental Directives to learn about new ideas and successfull projects in other countries.
The recent Erasmus+ Exchange 2016/17 was carried out with partners from Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Scotland and Romania.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19-pandemic, the 2020/21 exchanges with Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Sweden and Spain could not take place so far. The visits will probably take place in the second half of 2021.
Common agricultural policy (CAP): Public Goods Bonus
The public goods bonus (PGB) is a concept with which the support system of the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU could in future be based on the principle of "public money for public goods".
The method already developed by Landcare Germany in 2011 and 2012 is based on rewarding agricultural enterprises for the environmental benefits they have achieved in terms of area, instead of - as has been the case to date - subsidising at a flat rate according to the extent of the eligible hectare area. It is based on a point value system for individual farm management measures that generate positive effects in terms of biodiversity, climate and/or water protection. The evaluation is designed in such a way that the information required for this purpose can be taken perspectively from the annual application for agricultural subsidies. The overall performance of the farm is rewarded by the points achieved.
The idea of evaluating ecological services provided by agriculture with "ecopoints" and, based on this, remunerating them within the framework of EU agricultural policy is not new. The basic features of the PGB assessment method are based on a point value method which, building on previous assessment approaches, was originally developed for operational biodiversity consulting and certification in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The point values were validated by field surveys of the field bird indicator and the High Nature Value (HNV) farmland indicator (previous EU mandatory indicators). In a pilot project with 80 representative farms, the evaluation procedure proved to be practicable. In 2015, the assessment method was extended in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Taube (University of Kiel) to include the areas of climate and water protection services and subsequently validated again in 2016 through surveys on practical farms.
The preliminary work from Schleswig-Holstein formed the basis for an Research and Development project funded by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. In the period August 2017 till February 2020 the concept of the public goods bonus was tested for its nationwide applicability and further developed in the light of the results obtained.
Landcare Germany recommends that the public goods bonus will be used to design the eco-schemes within the framework of the EU Common Agricultural Policy after 2020 in Germany. The concept of the public goods bonus is based on the substantive and administrative requirements set by the EU Commission and can help to effectively implement the objectives in environmental and climate protection. Consequently, the concept could also be adapted for the application in other EU member states.
A global cooperation began a few years ago with the exchange between DVL and Landcare Australia, where a landcare approach is also familiar since the 1980s. In recent years, the global Landcare movement has continued to grow, and many organisations have joined the worldwide network Landcare.
Landscapes for People, Food and Nature
In March 2012 the Forum on Landscapes for People, Food and Nature (LPFN) took place at ICRAF in Nairobi. The LPFN hosted experts from all over the world to discuss how an integrated landscape approach can be developed and implemented in policy and on the ground. The DVL presented its experiences from Germany as well as the organisational structure of the LCA. Several working groups contributed to the "Call to Action" for Rio+20 and the general "Action and Advocacy Strategy".
Cooperation with Landcare Australia
Landcare Australia and Landcare Germany were founded at around the same time and with a similar approach in the 1980s, without them even knowing about each other. A personal contact to Australia finally brought the two organizations together. Although the natural background in both countries is different, there are many similarities in the organizations.
The article "Landcare with German eyes" by Beate Krettinger, published in Australia in 2002, can be found in the sidebar.
In September 2011, Landcare Facilitator Brett de Hayr came to Germany to discuss some key issues and visit some project sites of German LCAs.
In 2012 Beate Krettinger attended the National Landcare Conference in Sydney and gave a presentation on Landcare in Germany. During her stay in Australia, she had the opportunity to meet and discuss with some Australian Landcare groups.
Landcare International (LI) is a global network of individuals and institutions committed to the principles and practices of Landcare and its promotion worldwide. LI was founded in 2004 in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and is governed by an international steering committee of 16 members, represented by Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, the USA, Germany (DVL), Iceland, the Philippines, Uganda and South Africa.
Phone conferences and newsletters keep all members posted about new projects and ideas for land management. The common goal is to exchange experiences and promote sustainable resource use with community-based land management organisations. Well-established organisations act as coaches to support the developing initiatives with their experience and knowledge.
On 19th October 2010, the international alliance for the Satoyama Initiative was introduced to the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya.
Satoyama promotes the idea of "harmony between man and nature" and implies sustainable development and management of natural resources in landscapes that have been shaped by the local people for a long time.
The goal of the alliance is to work together to use these highly human-influenced spaces in a sustainable way. This includes agrobiodiversity - the diversity of crops and animals as well as the diversity of wild plants and animals in agricultural landscapes.
Besides nature, mankind is at the centre of the Satoyama initiative. So Satoyama promotes a common basis for nature and the living of local people. This idea is very similar to the vision of the Landcare associations in Germany. Therefore, DVL is one of the two European founding members of the initiative.
In early 2016, the Satoyama Initiative published the Satoyama Initiative Thematic Review Vol. 1 "Enhancing knowledge of better Management of Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes". DVL contributed an article on German Landcare Associations with examples from the Landcare Association Central Black Forest.