© Marcel Burkhardt
Jenny, M., J. Zellweger-Fischer, O. Balmer, S. Birrer & L. Pfiffner (2013)
The credit point system: an innovative approach to enhance biodiversity on farmland.
Aspects Appl. Biol. 118: 23–30
We developed a credit point system to assess “wildlife-friendliness” at the farm scale. Farmers can choose and gain points from 32 habitat management options, most of which account for quantity, quality and spatial distribution of ecological compensation areas (options of the Swiss agri-environment scheme). Additionally, points can be scored by specific arable and grassland measures. Farmers are free to decide which measures to implement. We evaluated the credit point system on 133 farms (2009–2011) in the Swiss Lowland Plateau. Occurrence and density of plants, grasshoppers, butterflies and farmland birds were recorded on these farms as biodiversity indicators. The scored points were positively correlated with the majority of biodiversity indicators. IP-Suisse, the Swiss organisation of integrated agricultural production, incorporated the credit point system into their production guidelines in 2009. All its producers have to reach a defined point score until 2013. As a consequence, two thirds of the involved farmers had to increase their ecological performance. This initiative also put pressure on their organic farming colleagues to reform their guidelines in order to fully exploit their high potential of biodiversity. The products from the farms are labelled by a major retailer as wildlife-friendly and are well-received by consumers. Farmers benefit from bonus payments from the retailer and an enhanced public image. Therefore, the credit point system helps to substantially improve farmland biodiversity. Our results provide evidence that wildlife-friendly farming can create a “win/win situation” for farmers and nature, even in intensively managed regions in the Swiss Lowland Plateau.
Keywords: Biodiversity, agri-environment, credit point system, wildlife friendly farming, label production, advisory