EU SUBSIDY CHANGES MAY CAUSE DESTRUCTION OF GRASSLANDS
Wildlife-rich English grasslands are at risk of being ploughed so that farmers can continue to claim EU subsidies for pastures, experts have warned. To escape penalties under proposed changes to the common agricultural policy, farmers are mowing down high-value grasslands to register permanent pastures ahead of a 2014 deadline. Though many of the grasslands are monocultures with limited natural value, an estimated 100,000 hectares remain that are rich in plants, fungi, bees, moths, and butterflies. "We don't mind particularly if intensive agricultural grassland is converted to arable," said Miles King, director of the Grasslands Trust. "However, the loss of unimproved or semi-improved grassland is very serious. There's so little of it left: every single bit really matters now." For the full story, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/03/eu-farmers-plough-grasslands.