By signing the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, Sweden committed itself to preserving "all genetic material of actual and potential value". According to the Convention, wild fauna and flora shall be preserved in their natural environment. Consequently the Swedish Parliament in June 1999 decided upon an Environmental Objective called A Varied Agricultural Landscape. The objective implies that the value of farmland and of the agricultural landscape to production of food and biological values be protected, while biological diversity and cultural heritage assets are preserved and strengthened. This goal is one of sixteen Environmental Objectives, which are followed up annually.
Sweden has a number of measures in order to achieve A Varied Agricultural Landscape. These measures include legislation, economic instruments and information. The main legislation dealing with biodiversity is the Environmental Code. In this Code Sweden has implemented the Habitat and Bird Directives of EU legislation. There is also a regulation stating that environment and cultural heritage is to be considered in agricultural practice. The Environmental Code also allows the protection of particularly valuable areas by the creation of nature reserves or national parks. There are national plans for this work, which give priority to meadows and semi-natural grazing lands of high value.
The most essential non-legislative means for reaching the objective are those presented in the Swedish rural development programme –2014-2020, in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 on support for rural development. The rural development programme includes payments for grazing of pastures, restoring of wetlands and organic farming, to mention but a few. The programme also finances information and education in order to preserve and enhance the management of biological values.
The Swedish environmental objectives