Kleijn et al. call for reliable evaluation of agri-environment schemes across Europe1, after concluding that schemes in the Netherlands did not increase the numbers of target wildlife species.

Detailed monitoring of this type has been undertaken in the United Kingdom since 1987. The results of various surveys have been published in books (see, for example, ref. 2) and journals (for example, ref. 3) and — for England — on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' website (

These reports and papers demonstrate that, in general, the UK schemes have maintained biodiversity, and show some limited enhancement in wildlife. When monitoring has revealed problems, management prescriptions given to farmers have been changed to improve the effectiveness of the scheme concerned.

Although the UK government and its agencies have spent considerable sums of money to determine the efficacy of agricultural–environment schemes in the United Kingdom, governments are often reluctant to fund adequate monitoring because of the administrative costs — the more money that is spent on monitoring, the less there is to advise farmers.

Unfortunately, the costs of administering European agricultural–environment schemes have to be borne by the country concerned, and are not subsidized by the European Union (EU). If the EU is willing to pay for monitoring, it will help to ensure the adequate assessment, and indeed the comparison, of such schemes.