The project

Business model

From agricultural farmers to bird farmers

In the Special Protection Area Dümmer, one of the most important meadow bird conservation areas in Germany and Europe, the population of meadow bird species is increasing since 2000, contrary to the trend in all of Lower Saxony. Currently, there are 1,400 pairs of meadow birds that breed on 2,500 ha of public grassland.

Accordingly, it is obligatory to maintain or use these areas in a way that is adapted to the habitat requirements of the meadow birds. To do this, we will develop a business model that sustainably rewards farmers for the number of birds they have on their fields.

Creating a business model

At the Dümmer, large proportions of the grassland areas are currently in an insufficient habitat condition and are in danger of no longer being suitable as breeding grounds for meadow birds. The necessary habitat improvements can hardly be funded, since neither hardship compensation nor agri-environment-climate measures (AECM) are granted for public land.

This also applies state-wide (Lower Saxony) to 20,000 ha of permanent grassland as well as 8,000 ha of public land within the Special Protection Areas. Grassland management is no longer cost-covering due to changes in the current CAP (Common Agricultural Policy in the EU) period and in tax law, among other things. This leads either to a strong reduction of the maintenance of grassland areas by tenants or even to the termination of leases.


Building blocks for payment

Therefore, we are developing a sustainable business model together with the farmers of the Dümmer area, the Landvolk (the regional farmers' association) and the Chamber of Agriculture. It includes three modules:

  • Payments for meadow birds. The more birds breed on the land, the more money the farmer receives. Aim: Agricultural farmers become bird farmers.
  • Payments for habitat management. Aim: Create good habitat conditions for meadow birds.
  • Payments for rush control. Aim: Reduce soft rush populations and maintain good habitat conditions for meadow birds.

Through this model, each farmer is continuously motivated to actively protect meadowbirds on his own initiative and to keep the land in good or very good habitat condition.

This business model could be financed by a Natura 2000 payment, alternatively by nature conservation programmes or species protection programmes.

After a pilot phase and an annual evaluation, this model is to be adapted and transferred to other meadow bird areas in Lower Saxony.