Meadow birds are under great pressure in the Netherlands. Intensive agriculture and urbanization have induced a reduction in the number of meadow birds since the 1990s. In the Bovenkerkerpolder, situated right under Amsterdam, farmers have put in place successful measures to stop their declining number. Although the management is effective, the model may not be future proof due to its dependency on subsidies and the willingness of farmers to cooperate in meadow bird management. At the request of farmer cooperation "ANV de Amstel" and on behalf of the province Noord-Holland, Nature^Squared has developed and evaluated various alternative models for meadow bird management in the Bovenkerkerpolder.
The objective of this project was to develop a potential model for meadow bird management that is not fully dependent on subsidies. We have looked at the costs of current and alternative management models and the opportunities to cover these costs (other than subsidies). The research consisted of desk research and interviews with various stakeholders. This informed a model that can predict the diverse future scenarios of the Bovenkerkerpolder.
The calculations pointed out that while alternative management models are more expensive in the short term than the model that is currently applied, they can induce positive effects on biodiversity and provide more certainty on the long term. In order to make meadow bird management subsidy-free, a good option might be to set an additional price for milk and to sell it as separately as a "meadow bird milk". The extra profit that can be realized with this milk can be used to pay for the meadow bird management.
In the meantime, members of ANV De Amstel have indeed started a dairy factory: Amstelgoed Natuurzuivel (news excerpt only available in Dutch):