Indicator Fact Sheet

Pressures on grasslands

Indicator Fact Sheet
Prod-ID: IND-9-en
  Also known as:
This is an old version, kept for reference only.

Go to latest version
This page was archived on 01 Aug 2017 with reason: No more updates will be done

Assessment made on  01 Jan 2001

Generic metadata



DPSIR: Pressure


Indicator codes

Policy issue:  What are the pressures on grasslands?


Key assessment

The proposals for Sites of Community Interest, submitted from across Europe to protect environmentally sensitive areas under the EU's Habitats Directive, demonstrate the wide variety of pressures affecting Europe's grasslands (see Figures) and how these pressures vary from country to country.

There is a wide range of different legal and financial instruments affecting grasslands, often working in different directions. The EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a good example, as well as being one of the most important factors.

In 1992, the CAP was reformed to help reduce the agricultural sector's impact on the environment and the European landscape. A range of 'agri-environmental' measures were introduced, including support for low-intensity maintenance of grassland, environmentally friendly farming techniques, and the management of non-productive land.

While all these measures are helping preserve Europe's grasslands, they only command a small proportion of the CAP budget. On the other hand, the CAP also supports the conversion of agricultural land to forest - 60% of the land reforested in this way was once permanent grassland.

In the future, grasslands will not be immune to the changes sweeping through the agricultural sector, notably organic farming and the potential reduction in cattle farming due to outbreaks of 'mad cow' and Foot-and-Mouth disease. Fewer cattle and less intensive farming could result in greater support for semi-permanent grasslands - or it could lead to greater afforestation, more intensive crop farming, or even the abandonment of fields.

Another major influence on grasslands, completely unrelated to the CAP or any other financial instrument, is climate change. Global warming could lead to expansion of dry and arid grasslands - and even to desertification - in southern Europe, and to the spread of humid grasslands in the north.


Document Actions