Area under organic farming (CSI 026) - Assessment published Nov 2005
Agriculture (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- CSI 026
Key policy question: What are the environmentally-relevant key trends in agricultural production systems?
The share of organic farming is increasing strongly and now stands at about 4 % of agricultural area in the fifteen older EU Member States and the EFTA countries. EU agri-environment programmes and consumer demand have been key factors for this strong increase. The share of organic land remains far below 1 % in most of the ten new Member States and the accession countries.
Organic farming area in Europe
Note: The figure shows the organic farming area in Europe
Institute of Rural Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
- The share of organic farming is far higher in northern and central European countries than in other parts of Europe - with the exception of Italy. The share is particularly low in most new EU Member States and the accession countries. The overall distribution seems to be influenced by the presence of consumer demand for organic products and government support in the form of agri-environment schemes and other measures.
- There is considerable regional variation of the share of organic farming within individual countries.
- Recent literature reviews provide information on the environmental impacts of organic agriculture compared to conventional management systems but results are not always unambiguous. The environmental benefits of organic farming are most clearly documented for biodiversity as well as for water and soil conservation. However, there is no clear evidence of reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It needs to be taken into account that organic agriculture is likely to have a more positive environmental impact in areas with highly intensive agriculture than in low-input farming systems. However, so far the regional uptake of organic farming is concentrated in extensive grassland regions, where fewer changes are needed to convert to organic farming than is the case in intensive, arable farming dominated regions, where the benefits would be higher.
Organic farming statistics (Organic centre Wales)
provided by University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Agriculture statistics (Eurostat)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoKarina Makarewicz
EEA Management Plan2010 (note: EEA internal system)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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