The Chosen Socio-Economic Problems of Protecting Valuable Agricultural Land in Natura 2000 Areas in Poland
Purpose: Intensive development of agriculture has led to the loss of many valuable ecosystems and thus to a significant impoverishment of biodiversity in rural areas. In the context of the analysed research problem, i.e. the functioning of agriculture in N2000 areas, Poland is a special country where there are semi-natural unique habitats disappearing in the European landscape. The aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of conservation measures financed under the EU CAP on agricultural land located on N2000 areas. Design/Methodology/Approach: The analytical material consisted of the results of surveys using a standardized questionnaire which carried out among 292 farmers (152 organic farmers and 140 conventional farmers) from the the area of N2000 "Biebrza Valley" PLH200008. The assumptions were verified based on the Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA analysis and gamma rank correlation. The analytical material also consisted of EUROSTAT data on the area of the N2000 network and the area of agricultural land covered by this form of protection in EU countries. These data were subject to horizontal and vertical (years 2009-2017) comparative analysis. Findings: Polish experience regarding the implementation of conservation measures on naturally valuable agricultural land (N2000) allows to state that environmental policy should be based on the idea of socially sustainable agriculture, including ecological sustainability (proper delimitation of areas predestined for protection, their environmental valorisation, development of conservation measures and their implementation, a bonus system for the sustainability of agri-environmental commitments), economic sustainability (the system of agricultural subsidies and/or other solutions to meet the basic living needs of farmers and their families), social sustainability (effective inclusion of local communities in information, education and decision-making processes at the stages of development, deployment and implementation of protection programs). Practical Implications: The recommendations resulting from the conducted research and analyses may be adopted by the institutions responsible for the creation of an environmental protection policy which can improve the effectiveness of active forms of protection in valuable natural habitats that are used for agriculture. Originality/Value: The article indicates the recommendations based on building a lasting relationship between farmers and the protection of the environment.