The Cutting Edge Of Global Change In Europe: Policy

March 11, 1998

The Issue

Agricultural overproduction as a result of intensifed management led the European Union to make a sweeping overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 1992 to encourage long-term abandonment of arable land or conversion to less intensively used pasturelands. The new policy was also developed in response to public demands to reduce agricultural pollution and maintain the appearance and high biological diversity of the "traditional" agricultural landscape. Eight hundred of the world's leading environmental scientists will address this and other questions at a meeting sponsored by the GCTE/LUCC Programs (Global Change & Terrestrial Ecosystems & Land Use/Cover Change) in Barcelona, Spain, on March 14-18, 1998.

The transition from high input (fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, etc.) / high output (high yield, high nutrient loss) agricultural systems to low input / low output ecosystems, frequently does not occur rapidly following abandonment or conversion to pastureland. Poor re-colonization by plants and soil organisms immediately following abandonment often leads to soil erosion and nutrient losses. Subsequent invasions by highly competitive weeds often impedes the establishment of the natural and diverse plant and animal communities. The challenge for the scientists is to design management strategies to facilitate this transition and the re-establishment of diverse plant and animal communities. The re-establishment of natural soil processes and nutrient cycling will be especially challenging and constitute an area where knowledge is the most needed.

The SciencePractical Information

The European Forum will take place on March 17, at 10:30 in session 1. The European transect sudy mentioned above is entitled CLUE (Changing Land Usage). An ad hoc meeting on the "CLUE-TERI" project dealing with the above theme will take place on March 16 at lunch time, and various posters on the same theme will be exhibited during the poster sessions of March 16 and 17.

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Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems Project (GCTE)

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