Conservation of farmland

This work aims to advance understanding on what practical solutions work in sustaining and enhancing diversity of several taxa of species through a highly interdisciplinary and international research on biodiversity conservation in agricultural environments.

For this, we bridge ecological knowledge to agronomic realities of farming, farmers’ acceptance of managing for nature, and existing economic and policy frameworks. The key themes, on which we have been working, are:

  • Distribution and abundance of farmland birds in relation to land use and agri-environmental management in Finland, Baltic countries and Russian Federation;
  • Effectiveness of Finnish agri-environmental programme for biodiversity and landscape
  • Novel approaches to conservation: fallowing for biodiversity, payments to farmers by biodiversity results
  • Making farmers matter in conservation on farmland


Birds@ Farmland

Developing tools to support farmland bird conservation in the EU – Irina Herzon

The Birds@Farmland initiative of the European Commission was launched in 2020 with the aim to support 10 Member States - Finland among them - in addressing the challenge above. The initiative was a collaborative process among researchers, competent authorities, NGOs, Farm Advisory Services and other relevant actors in each of the 10 Member States, and the European Commission. The consortium co-developed 22 farmland bird conservation schemes so that they can be integrated into the Strategic Plans under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in each country.

Due to a unique implementation format – close interactions among key stakeholders at regional, national and EU level with the direct involvement of the European Commission – a number of the newly developed or enhanced existing conservation schemes have already become part of the national commitments. The funding will be open to farmers in 2023 through CAP.

The University of Helsinki and its Department of Agricultural Sciences led the work in Finland. Top experts in the country from the university, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) could reflect on their views of what needs to be done in Finland with representatives of farmers and advisory organisations, both Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Ministry of Environment, regional centres, NGOs. Importantly, active farmers who already successfully maintain farmland birds on their farms could share their experiences. In a two-way process, the initiative provided insights into knowledge gaps and needs for further research in the field of developing more sustainable agricultural production.

Birds@ Farmland: Maatalousympäristön lintujen suojelun vahvistaminen EU:ssa
Euroopan komission rahoittamassa Birds@ Farmland aloitteessa vahvistetaan maatalousympäristön lintujen suojelun toimenpiteitä kymmenessä Euroopan Unionin jäsenmaassa. Suomessa maatalousympäristön lintulajien runsaus on lähes puolittunut 1980-luvun alusta. Perinteisesti tavallisia ja runsaita lajeja, kuten pääskyt, on jo todettu Suomessa uhanalaisiksi. Maatalousympäristön lintujen suojelu on lintudirektiivin velvoite, joka on välttämätön Euroopan vihreän kehityksen, Biodiversiteettistrategian ja Pellolta pöytään -strategian onnistumisiin. Aloite kokoaa yhteen maataloustuottajaorganisaatioita, kansalaisjärjestöjä, asiantuntijoita sekä maatalous- ja ympäristöviranomaisia niin kansallisella kuin kansainvälisillä tasoilla. Tavoitteena on pitkäaikainen yhteistyö luonnontilan parantamisessa.



Link to EU portal (incl. reports, factsheets) in English and national languages

Link to Agricultural systems factsheets folder

Link to Flagship species factsheets folder

Link to Conservation schemes factsheets folder

Pollinator-Friendly farms (in collaboration with Baltic Sea Action Group) - Traci Birge.
The project aims to provide farmers with the information they need to improve conditions for pollinators on their farms. It is funded by Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation.

Role of cattle grazing in maintaining biodiversity in Finland – Irina Herzon
The aim is to gain an in-depth understanding of the impacts of varying livestock grazing regimes on farmland birds in Finland through a quasi-experimental field-based study design.

Developing tools to support farmland bird conservation in the EU – Irina Herzon
The aim is to provide concrete support to Member States to design and put in place effective measures to conserve farmland birds

Recent media response:
YLE (in Finnish)
Studentbladet (in Swedish)
ScienceDaily (in English)
Maj and Tor Nessling foundation (in Finnish)

People working in Conservation of farmland:
Irina (Iryna) Herzon, Docent, University lecturer
Traci Birge, PostDoc