'Greening' Green Infrastructure. Good Italian Practices for Enhancing Green Infrastructure through the Common Agricultural Policy
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was established by the European Community in the 1950s to provide financial support to farmers in member states, increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress, and ensure a fair standard of living for farmers. Over time; awareness about the externalities of intensive farming would prompt environmentally friendly practices. These include, in the current programming period 2014–2020, the so-called "greening", which consists of: (i) crop
... sts of: (i) crop diversification; (ii) the maintenance of permanent grassland surfaces; and (iii) the availability of 5% of arable land for ecological focus areas devoted to agricultural practices beneficial for the climate and the environment. These provisions, spurred by a decades-long debate that also stresses the importance of creating/restoring ecological connectivity on different scales to counter land fragmentation, are in tune with spatial planning initiatives throughout Europe. Here the point is how to combine these directions with either "ecological networks" (EN), designed as physical corridors to be preserved and enhanced for plants and animals' mobility needs; or "green infrastructure" (GI), defined on the European level as a "strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services" (European Commission; 2013). While in several European countries environmental measures targeting farmers and ecological networks directed at specific areas have been merged in a place-based approach, Italy is lagging behind. In general, no guidelines have been provided on the national level to support regional paths, while regions and municipalities lack the resources to implement GI. Conversely, while greening policies in the framework of the CAP are properly funded, they lack directions to be efficiently allocated. Against the backdrop of such concerns, this paper frames and reflects upon ongoing practices in three pilot areas in different Italian regions, selected based on desk analysis, in-depth interviews, and direct knowledge. Here, despite or thanks to the legislative framework, experimental approaches have been adopted to harness performance issues in targeted areas through broad participation by public and private stakeholders and multilevel governance schemes, opening possible pathways in view of the forthcoming programming period.