Common Biophysical Criteria for Defining Areas which are Less Favourable for Agriculture in Europe

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This report presents potential common biophysical, soil and climate criteria that can be used for defining areas which are less favourable for agriculture in Europe. The work is part of the Joint Research Centre technical support to DG Agriculture and Rural Development in their preparatory work to find a new definition for classifying the EU Other/Intermediate Less Favoured Areas (Article 19) to be implemented after 2010.

The report is based on the findings of the expert meeting that was organised by the Joint Research Centre and occurred on the 19th and 20th of April 2007 in Ispra, Italy. The meeting included 33 participants, including 14 experts from various scientific institutes, four participants from DG Agriculture and Rural Development and 15 experts from the DG Joint Research Centre. A wide range of expertise in various fields was covered by the participants, including land quality assessment methods, soil, terrain, climate, water, environment, agriculture, implementation of EC agricultural policy and Less Favoured Areas.

The proceedings of this meeting includes: an introduction to the Less Favoured Areas, the work in which the Joint Research Centre provides technical support to DG Agriculture and Rural Development, abstracts of presentations, reports from working groups, results on potential common criteria and selected maps from presentations. It also summarises discussions on context, common criteria and application of these criteria by the Member States.

The expert meeting builds on the results from an earlier expert meeting (May 2006) on land quality assessment, which was organised to anticipate the technical work from the Joint Research Centre for DG Agriculture and Rural Development in the new definition of the Other Less Favoured Areas. Participants from that expert meeting were asked to make presentations on potential criteria, mainly based from that event, to be challenged at this expert meeting.

The proceedings are aimed to be a base for DG Agriculture and Rural Development in their consultation with Member States and future networks with scientists involved in the progress of classifying the Other Less Favoured Areas from biophysical criteria, seen as natural handicaps to agriculture.

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