Short rotation plantations ("short rotation coppice") are classified as “permanent crops”. Hence, they are funded within the Basic Payment Scheme under the CAP Guidelines 2014-2020. Member states might further define suitable tree varieties and maximum harvest cycles as stated in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1120/2009.
In most member states short rotation plantations are qualifying as Ecological Focus Area (EFS) to fulfill ‘Greening’ requirements. This might include further cultivation standards (e.g. no mineral fertilizer pesticides) which are defined on national level.
By applying for the basic payment scheme, farmers must comply with so-called "greening requirements", which sums up to around 30% of direct payments.
The basic practices that farmers must undertake are:
- maintaining permanent grassland,
- crop diversification (arable land > 10 ha),
- having 5% (later 7%) of their land as Ecological Focus Area (arable land > 15 ha)
As an element of green direct payments short rotation plantations offer multiple benefits. Being classified as a permanent crop, SRP reduce the total area of arable land as a basis for crop diversification and Ecological Focus Area (EFA). In this case, a farm’s arable land is calculated by subtracting the area covered with permanent crops & permanent grassland from the farmland eligible for direct payments.
In addition SRP could be designated as EFA by the member states (REGULATION (EU) No 1307/2013) with a weighting factor of 0,3 (COMMISSION DELEGATED REGULATION (EU) No 639/2014). To qualify as EFA, a SRP must be managed without the use of mineral fertilisers and/or pesticides and comply with specific national regulations. In Germany, around one third of the national SRPs are currently registered as EFA.