«Tuesday, 21 June Session 4 : 09h00-10h40 Evaluation of Agri-environmental Measures in the Czech Republic : Evolving concept Jaroslav PRAZAN, Head of ...»
Concerning conversion of arable land to grassland and potential impact in form of reduction of soil erosion the evaluation was carried out without monitoring but by calculation of reduction of soil loss (DHV 2010). The database with plots in concern was turned to GIS, the layer with slopes was added, and potential loss of soil was calculated before and after the land use change (using Soil loss equation). Finally there was attempt to evaluate the saved soil in monetary terms. This was the first time an attempt to evaluate the erosion prevention effort on the national level. There is intention to use that approach in future and regularly.
The same scheme was evaluated in sense of its impact on carbon storage (Kapler 2010) using EX-ACT model (free model produced by FAO).
Biodiversity on grassland This scheme monitoring and evaluation is discussed in more details as it was found as the most difficult. The change of biodiversity over years was the key factor for evaluation. When used control plots for the monitoring and evaluation, the differences were evaluated with caution. The experts carrying out the monitoring do not believe it is possible to find sufficient number of control sites with the same characteristics and history (the Czech landscape is rather diverse).
General concerns as expressed by monitoring supplier concerning monitored sites: the schemes and fields changed over time and therefore it was difficult in some cases to continue with monitoring (e.g. exchange of plots between farmers, change in size of plot, scheme stopped there). The size of the plots sample is presented in table 1.
Rules for selection of organisms for monitoring:
Practical possibility to collect and determine them.
Assumption of the qualitative and quantitative causal relationship between them and management prescriptions.
Sufficient resistance to influences coming for outside, which could disturb the observation.
Monitoring with acceptable cost.
Monitoring was carried out in spring (May to June) and autumn (October to November) for five years on the same plots while baseline was taken in 2005.
Collection of data: sampling spot was 3x3 m and selection was left to expert in order to find the right place according to local conditions (not missing important spots if the same approach for selection is applied). Using GPS the same spots were used every year.
Processing of data: data collected on monitoring sites were calculated to indicators: number of species (and species index in percent), proportion of meadow vs. “weed” species, Shanon index, Braun-Blanquet scale of abundance and dominance.
Analysis was carried out among others also based on theory of strategy of plants (C-S-R classification of plants).
Monitoring was carried out only 2009 (baseline) and 2010. Not only change in biodiversity but also influence of habitats (usually ecotones and forests) in surrounding (also there was monitoring carried out).
Rules for selection of organisms for monitoring (groups of species monitored, not single
species). The group should:
Be sufficiently diversified.
Be easily determined.
Easily quantitatively and qualitatively evaluable.
All insects were collected on the spot, up to orders were determined and numbers recorded for each order. The sampling was carried out in the plot (i.e. managed grassland), in near ecotones (i.e. herb fringe), and in nearest wood (the edge of wood/forest).
Statistical analysis for both plants and insects:
Diversity - Shannon index Standardised diversity – Evenness Number of species Statistical test with aim to separate different schemes on the same plot (based on assumption the effect are adding to each other). It was possible also test the effect of different combinations of schemes on one plot.
Linear modelling to find correlation between observations in time and space (between plots).
Schemes targeted at bird species:
The concept was based on monitoring of plots in scheme where birds were identified (or not identified). The schemes were evaluated as successful if target birds were found on the plot under the scheme. Monitoring was carried out from 2005 in case of corncrake and from 2008 in case of waders.
Evaluation: results and lessons learned Both organic farming and integrated farming show significant benefits for biodiversity.
Recent results show significantly more butterfly species and their numbers on organic and integrated vineyards and orchards then on conventional (Biocont Laboratory 2010). But in case of beetles (e.g. Carabides) the difference was not significant (Biocont Laboratory 2010).
In case of orchards the numbers of species did not show significant difference but composition of species was different (Biocont Laboratory 2010).
Broad schemes (extensive meadows):
Despite the increase of species on these meadows the change is not statistically significant (Via service 2010).
Valuable grassland habitats:
The most promissing results are positive change of plant biodiversity on the most valuable sites, which were statistically significant (Via service 2010). Ratio between meadow and weed species remained the same. The strongest results were found on “Mesophile and wet meadows” and “Mountain and dry meadows”, while small decline of biodiversity was experienced in case of “Species rich pastures”. The biodiversity on “Permanently waterlogged and peat meadows” is stable.
It is too early to evaluate entomological monitoring (only years 2009 and 2010. Results show that meadows have the same or higher entomological biodiversity than biotopes in surrounding (Vias service 2010).
The most frequent criticism of current monitoring and evaluation of biodiversity:
The total number of monitored sites is not sufficient when take into account number of evaluated schemes.
Comparison of plots with scheme with plots with other (similar) scheme is problematic despite statistical exercise to distinguish the influences.
Annual monitoring is not necessary. Saved money could be used for bigger sample.
Increase of clarity of selection of sites (e.g. proximity of other plots with similar schemes could influence the results).
Selection of insect groups for monitoring is not typical and some groups perhaps not so important. The range of groups for monitoring is too small (e.g. perhaps because of the low budget).
Not well explained why comparisons between plot-ecoton-forest in case of insects.
Evaluators themselves mentioned that the improvement of the biodiversity over years could be partly result of improved capacities of personnel doing the monitoring.
Source: DHV (2010), VIA Service (2010).
Well accepted is the statistical exercise allowing interpretation of results from ecological characteristics of every species of plants. This approach can reveal whether the scheme supports increase of biodiversity, but more importantly whether the target species have benefited from the scheme.
All in all despite the criticism the monitoring and evaluation of agri-environmental measure has a short history and evolves (the increase of experience is promising). The broader family of expert are keen to help those providing monitoring to improve the system. Therefore further improvement can be expected in coming years. The budget is still one of the most critical factors limiting the needed extent of the monitoring.
Concerning evaluation there is a lack of experience in policy evaluation and sometimes the results are interpreted in a confusing way. One of the key deficiencies of the evaluation was that the results were only compared with official goals of the measure but nearly no questions and relevant investigation, which could help to answer the question why the impact was as detected. One of the reason is that evaluation is not carried out in cooperation under interdisciplinary team (source: own observation).
Summary and conclusions The monitoring and evaluation of agri-environmental measure does not have a long history in the Czech Republic. Vineyards and orchards have been monitored already in early 90s but grasslands started with systematic monitoring in 2005. Current monitoring and evaluation show positive impact of the agri-environmental schemes (especially in case of plat diversity), but there are still some concerns about the reliability of some results.
The monitoring and evaluation techniques evolve and the quality of monitoring increases in the Czech Republic over the last years.
The difficulties, the monitoring/evaluation is facing:
Small budget does not allow having sufficient number of sample sites per one scheme.
Schemes change between programming periods – threat to continuity of monitoring.
Combination of schemes on one block (not many single schemes). How to distinguish the influence of different schemes on one monitoring sites? High uptake makes it difficult to select right plots for comparisons.
Too many management options to monitor all of them separately – monitoring have to be carried out on scheme level, not sub-scheme level.
Lengths of monitoring: some sites still in pilot stage (insects), some already five years history – but still not long.
The methodology was not developed under wider discussion with other experts and therefore frequent criticism and discussion can be observed.
Suggestion is to organise wide discussion on the monitoring and evaluation system, improve the system, and raise more funds to support higher number of monitored sites.
The evaluation should be designed and carried out by interdisciplinary team, where at least biologists and policy analysts should participate to ensure defendable evaluation results.
Incorporate the monitoring and evaluation to the wider process of policy evaluation, where it is possible to ask why the results are as detected (coming back to evaluation of design and implementation phase of the policy cycle).
References Biocont Laboratory (2010) Monitoring biodiversity of vineyards and orchards under integrated production systém in 2010. Report to Ministry of Agriculture CR, Brno.
DHV (2010) Ongoing evaluation of RDP CR for period 2007-2013. Final report for the Ministry of Agriculture (Závěrečná zpráva pro Ministerstvo zemědělství ČR), Praha Hlava, J., (2010) Pilot monitoring of worms in selected schemes B1 and B4. Report for the Ministry of Agriculture, Czech Agricultural University, Prague.
VIA service (2010) Pilot monitoring of corncrake on plots under the scheme B6 of agrienvironmental measure. Report to Ministry of Agriculture. Prague VIA service (2010) Monitoring of impacts of Agri-environmental measure (phase I -VI).
Report to Ministry of Agriculture. Prague