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Ecological Indicators
Volume 130, 2021, 108039

Natural potential versus rationality of allocation of Common Agriculture Policy funds dedicated for supporting organic farming development – Assessment of spatial suitability: The case of Poland

Łukasz Wiśniewski, Mirosław Biczkowski, Roman Rudnicki

Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Faculty of Earth Sciences and Spatial Management, Lwowska 1, 87-100 Toruń, Poland.


Agriculture exerts a strong pressure on the environment and can both preserve biodiversity, diversify and improve landscape quality, and cause declines in farmland biodiversity. In response to growing environmental concerns, the European Union has introduced dedicated measures including the “Organic Farming” (OF) Measure, which is implemented in Poland under the Rural Development Programme. The Measure is the subject of the research presented in this article. In the context of the challenges faced, the uptake of subsidies depends on appropriate spatial targeting of organic farming support by making it better suited to the environmental conditions (potential) prevailing in a specific area. Therefore the aim of the study is to investigate the spatial match (i.e. consistency between the natural potential of a region and funding policy) between OF support and the prevailing natural conditions. Three indicators are used in the research: the indicator of environmental suitability of land for organic farming (IESAOF), the indicator of uptake of organic farming funds (IUOFF), and the indicator of spatial fit of organic farming support (ISFOFS). They pertain to both the spatial differentiation of the absorption of organic farming funds and to selected environmental indicators measuring the quality of individual natural components. The analysis relied, inter alia, on spatial autocorrelation methods: Moran’s I and LISAs. The study has been carried out using Poland as an example at different spatial scales: the regional (16 regions; NUTS2) and the local (2175 LAU level 2 units). The use of the synthetic ISFOFS index has allowed the spatial discrepancies between IESAOF and IUOFF and areas with spatial mismatch to be identified. The study has established areas with untapped potential and those where OF funds are underutilised given their environmental potential. The situation described is detrimental to the effectiveness of support, which is contrary to the CAP principles. The key findings are important in the context of monitoring and evaluating the EU’s agricultural policies, which should take more account of the characteristics of the individual countries, including their natural regional and local specificities.

Keywords: Organic farming, Sustainable development, Agri-environmental measures, Environmental externalities, Biodiversity, Environmental indicators, Spatial autocorrelation, EU funds.

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