BioDiversity Add-on: Promoting biodiversity in conventional agriculture

Biodiversity and agriculture

Biodiversity – the huge variety of life on earth, encompassing animals, plants, bacteria, and fungi – is one of the world’s most precious resources. Protecting biodiversity has become one of the most important challenges facing the agricultural sector and food supply chains.

The BioDiversity add-on

The BioDiversity add-on lays out a set of rules, principles, and criteria, which help producers to demonstrate their biodiversity management practices. Retailers and traders can ask suppliers to undergo a BioDiversity add-on audit in order to fulfill their corporate social responsibility pledges.

The wide range of audit criteria in the BioDiversity add-on includes:

  • The farm’s biodiversity action plan
  • Access to training, knowledge sharing, and farm-specific biodiversity advice
  • Off-farm synergies
  • Areas dedicated to biodiversity
  • Protection and restoration measures
  • Integrated pest management
  • Soil and nutrient management plan
  • Wastewater management and protection of water sources

Supply chain requirements for add-on implementation may vary. In the first year, producers are required to establish a biodiversity action plan detailing measures to be implemented over a given timeframe.

The add-on audit is usually conducted together with the audit for the Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) standard for crops (v5.2 or v5.4-1-GFS). The audit duration is foreseen to be similar to SPRING. Producers who comply with 100% of the Major Must and critical criteria and at least 75% of the Minor Musts will receive a letter of conformance which is visible in the GLOBALG.A.P. IT systems.

Version 1 of the GLOBALG.A.P. BioDiversity add-on will be launched and made available to the public in April 2022 and will currently only be available for fruit and vegetable producers in the European Economic Area. Certification bodies (CBs) can access the documents for internal training via the GLOBALG.A.P. website from February 2022.

Technical development

The BioDiversity add-on version 1 was created by the GLOBALG.A.P. Standards & Technical team and a multi-stakeholder project team on the initiative of the German retailer Lidl. The project harnessed a wide range of industry perspectives: Sustainable Food Systems GmbH (SFS), the Global Nature Fund, Bioland, suppliers and producers across Europe, and the Nürtingen-Geislingen University.

Version 1 of the BioDiversity add-on has been developed as a prototype and therefore did not go through the normal GLOBALG.A.P. governance processes. In this respect, the development process is similar to that of other GLOBALG.A.P. add-ons, such as GRASP and SPRING, which were originally developed on the initiative of a GLOBALG.A.P. Community Member. A technical update of version 1 will be released by the end of 2022 to align the checklist with IFA v6.

Version 2 of the BioDiversity add-on will be developed in 2023 according to the normal GLOBALG.A.P. governance processes and taking into account the learnings from version 1.

BioDiversity add-on fees

The fees for the BioDiversity add-on are similar to those of other add-ons.

BioDiversity add-on fees for CBs:

CB license fee (scope extension): €500 per year
CB IHT training: €250 per training day per person

BioDiversity add-on annual fees for producers:

Option 1 – €30
Option 2 – €250 per group + €5 per producer group member

FAQ

Can the share of organic production be counted towards areas dedicated to biodiversity?

No, not per se. What is decisive is whether the area represents a true contribution to biodiversity as described in the guidance documents. If the production area for organic products meets the description, it can be counted.

See the BioDiversity v1.0 guidance document pages 17-19

Can the required 3% of the total agricultural business area dedicated to biodiversity be located outside of the production area?

Yes, the areas can be outside of the production area and within the legal farm area, i.e., the total area of the farm. If the producer cannot comply with this requirement (CP 7.1.1), and all possible measures to establish areas dedicated to biodiversity have been exhausted within the scope of the farm, the biodiversity action plan (BAP) shall indicate this and biodiversity compensation areas shall be sought (see CP 7.1.3).

How can linear meters be converted into hectares to indicate areas dedicated to biodiversity?

Most linear landscape features have a width. For example, hedges tend to be at least half a meter wide. In such cases, you should multiply the length and the width of these elements. In other cases, we recommend that producers make an estimation.

What type of training does the BioDiversity representative need to complete?

The requirements for training are intentionally not prescriptive. No specific training is required, e.g., by a certification body (CB). However, it is necessary to explain what type of training was completed, e.g., training through a local network or national project. This enables the sharing of experiences and the multiplication of best practices on how to enhance biodiversity potential.

Which areas have (high) conservation value (ref. CP 8.1.5)?

Such areas are not clearly defined. For this add-on and in the context of Europe, it is recommended to use areas under the Natura 2000 Network as a starting point. […] The concept of high conservation value areas (HCVA) largely finds application in a global context. HCVA are defined as natural habitats where ecological values are considered to be of outstanding significance or critical importance for species diversity, landscapes, ecosystems, habitats, ecosystem services, community needs, and cultural values. In the EU, a similar concept has been developed that is directly related to farming, known as high nature value farmland (HNVF) or areas. The goal is to maintain a high level of biodiversity. […]

See the BioDiversity v1.0 guidance document

What is the process for receiving permission to use neonicotinoids?

The use of neonicotinoids is generally not permitted by the BioDiversity add-on. However, in extreme emergency cases, such as the risk of complete crop loss, approval for the emergency use of acetamiprid shall be granted by the certification body (CB) prior to use. Permission shall be sought from the CB prior to the application of acetamiprid and, if granted, shall be considered valid for the whole season.

What is the definition of an “extreme emergency case” for the application of neonicotinoids?

The producer must demonstrate to the certification body (CB) that, e.g., a total crop loss would occur if acetamiprid is not applied. If the CB does not answer in due time, evidence of a formal request is considered sufficient. 

How can targets be set in the BAP if the producer’s knowledge of a specific topic is considered insufficient?

Biodiversity is based on complex processes that happen over time in various spatial dimensions and are knowledge intensive. This requires knowledge and good spatial and temporal planning. Therefore, the add-on introduces tools, e.g., the self-assessment and the BAP, that support producers in tackling the aspects of time and space, while the requirements provide input on topics relevant to biodiversity. Planning with a BAP helps to ensure ongoing operational processes without compromising on economic continuity.

See the BioDiversity v1.0 guidance document and the control points on advice and training (CPs 4 and 5)

GLOBALG.A.P. views this rollout phase as a learning curve that will help us all to understand both from where existing knowledge has been gained, and how GLOBALG.A.P. can support the sharing of experience and help users connect with each other.

What are alien invasive species? Only those that are actively protected against, or also others?

This control point requires knowledge and awareness, but not action at this point. However, it aims to address more than the relevance of an invasive pest for agricultural production and to also consider biodiversity.

Are ditches considered water bodies, and is a five-meter buffer zone therefore required between them and the production area?

In the current version, the BioDiversity add-on only focuses on permanent water bodies.

What rules apply if a producer buys additional products from a producer with Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) certification but without a BioDiversity add-on letter of conformance?

Parallel ownership is not allowed in the context of the BioDiversity add-on. The legal entity that is registered for the add-on shall not buy products originating from production processes that are IFA certified but not audited to the BioDiversity add-on.

For Option 2 producer groups and Option 1 multisite producers, do all producer group members/production sites need to be audited?

According to the BioDiversity general rules specifications, results from all producer group members/production sites shall be considered in the overall result of a producer group/multisite producer. However, during the pilot phase, this requirement may be adapted in consultation with the project partners.

GLOBALG.A.P. will evaluate this rule across various products (i.e., in comparison with other add-ons) and consider it in future versions of this add-on. This shall include elaborating on how the various members of a producer group that operate in very different biodiversity contexts shall be treated, e.g., by developing their own biodiversity action plans (BAPs).

What are GLOBALG.A.P. add-ons?

GLOBALG.A.P. add-ons are farm assurance solutions designed to complement GLOBALG.A.P. standards for safe and responsible farming. They are tailored to specific topics and usually audited together with IFA. 

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Contact

For any general questions please contact the GLOBALG.A.P. Customer Support team:
customer_support@globalgap.org.

For any technical questions regarding the implementation of the BioDiversity add-on, please contact the Standards & Technical team:
standard_support@globalgap.org.