Science and Technology

Técnico researchers participate in the development of a biodiversity tool

Técnico, in partnership with European partners, created a Biodiversity Performance Tool to diagnose the biodiversity performance of any type of farm, as well as to obtain recommendations for performance improvements.

The new tool created by Instituto Superior Técnico in partnership with the other partners of the European project “LIFE Food & Biodiversity – Biodiversity in Standards and Labels for the Food Industry”, will be an important contribution to understand what measures and improvements can be made in terms of biodiversity on our farms. This free access tool allows the user to get a simple but meaningful overview regarding the quality of the BAP and the biodiversity performance of the farm.

The Biodiversity Performance Tool (BPT) is associated with the Biodiversity Monitoring System, which allows standards and food companies to monitor the biodiversity performance of certified farms and/or supplying farmers.

The tool allows, for example: detailed assessment based on 75 indicators, the possibility of inserting geographic information of natural and semi-natural elements, or specific measures to be implemented in order to improve the biodiversity performance, based on “Action Plan for Biodiversity” approach. “Unlike the other tools in this area, BPT has indicators for evaluating specific crops / crops, that is, it takes into account some types of crops / crops and has specific indicators for them”, points out Nuno Sarmento, project researcher and member of MARETEC team led by professor Tiago Domingos. According to the researcher, there is no doubt that this tool “is an important step forward as regards the existing tools, in terms of amount and detail of data collected, assessment and recommendations”.

Técnico co-designed the tool and contributed to the definition of the main assessment topics, the selection of indicators for the questionnaire, the indicators scores and the choice of measures that tool proposes based on the assessment carried out. The MARETEC team was also involved in writing the technical manual and explanatory texts for the actions. “This participation comes from MARETEC’s long experience in environmental assessment of agriculture, in particular extensive animal production systems, climate change, soil conservation and biodiversity”, highlights Nuno Sarmento.

BPT is also associated with a “Biodiversity Knowledge Base”, which provides detailed information on the most current knowledge regarding measures to promote biodiversity in farms, guides on how to produce a Biodiversity Action Plan on a farm, training materials for auditors and consultants, etc.

“There are several companies in Germany – including retailer Kaufland – and in France that are currently testing the tool, and interested in acquiring advisory service as of January 2021”, says Nuno Sarmento.

This tool, as well as the Monitoring System, are the most recent elements of a set of publications and tools for producers, consultants, auditors and product managers in the food industry launched by this project. The purpose of these tools is to deepen knowledge about the positive and negative impacts of Standards, Labels and food companies (and their customers and suppliers) on biodiversity.

The project runs until the end of September 2020 and BPT will be available free of charge to individual farmers and companies until the end of this year.