Natuurlijk Kapitaal Nederland | natuur & economie verbinden

The suitability of the Natural capital Netherlands conceptual model for further greening of the CAP

Foto: Jan van IJken; agrarisch natuurbeheerThe conceptual model for Natural capital Netherlands offers openings for the further greening of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020. This model helps with the mapping, valuation and capturing of services from nature. Ecosystem services which are eligible for support under the CAP are those related to agriculture, such as soil fertility, or which have a public significance, such as landscape.

Research issue

Under the Common Agricultural Policy the EU is working towards greening, the first results of which will become operational in 2015. This greening is very important, but previous studies have estimated that the tangible effects will be negligible or hardly noticeable even. Therefore further ways of bringing about greening from 2020 are now being considered.


This study looked at the suitability of the NKN approach in extending and enhancing the greening objectives of the CAP and the financing for this. Salland and the Veenkoloniƫn (former peat cutting area SE of Groningen) were the areas studied. The study comprised two meetings per area, interviews with regional stakeholders and a desk study.


At the meetings in the areas it appeared that ecosystem services was a useful concept for discussing area attributes. The quantification and mapping of the ecosystem services done by the researchers was useful in supporting the discussions. The logical division into production, regulating and cultural services also provided a rapid overview of the whole area.

Waterbergingscapaciteit in Salland in de winter en zomer

Example of a map of ecosystem services in Salland: water storage capacity in winter (left) and in summer (right).

For the further greening of the CAP there appear to be initial prospects in soil regulating services such as disease prevention, water retaining properties and carbon capture. There are also opportunities in border-related services such as pest control and support for crop fertilization. These services are closely related to making agriculture more sustainable and can also help to support climate goals. However, there may also be loss of revenue due to acreage lost further to the changed use of field borders. There are other uncertainties about the extent to which pests and diseases can be effectively managed and thus whether the harvest would remain at the same level. Support under the CAP could encourage farmers to start making use of these services.

Cultural services, such as the perceived value of the landscape, could provide an opening for further greening of the CAP. The public nature of the landscape could provide a good argument for the use of public funding for this.


Taking an area-based approach, the researchers recommend further investigation of the opportunities for greater greening of the CAP based on the NKN approach. Local collectives, such as those already active in agricultural nature management, could take the lead in drawing up plans for the better capturing of certain services, with the ultimate aim of making agriculture more sustainable and increasing its perceived value. Because there is still a great deal of experience to be gained, a learning approach would be most suitable. Close cooperation between farmers and researchers on an equal footing would help speed up the process.

Study conducted by

Alterra Wageningen UR research institute

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