Finger on the pulse

The Ministers’ Environment Policy Plan (2019-2024) announces: "In collaboration with the Agriculture and Fisheries policy domain and relevant actors, we are setting up a Monitoring Network for Biodiversity in the Agricultural Area in order to track the condition of biodiversity, as well as the impact of management measures and pressures."

INBO translated this intention into a proposal for a Monitoring Network for Biodiversity in the Agricultural Area . The monitoring network consists of three components:

  • The status monitoring network tracks the condition of biodiversity in the agricultural area.
  • The effectiveness monitoring network tracks the impact of efforts towards nature (e.g. agri-environmental schemes).
  • The pressure monitoring network monitors the pressure of agriculture outside the agricultural area, including in nature areas.

The proposal optimally builds upon the existing monitoring schemes already carried out by various actors. It makes no assumptions about who will implement the proposed extensions and new monitoring networks. The INBO is one of the potential implementers, alongside nature associations, universities and study agencies, among others. The monitoring network is composed of modules that can be implemented separately, by different actors, and all completing towards a consistent monitoring network.

Read the full proposal here: Voorstel voor een Meetnet Biodiversiteit Agrarisch Gebied (MBAG)

The proposal will be implemented gradually.

Nesting birds

A pilot project started in 2022 to strengthen the existing monitoring of birds in the agricultural area. This will allow us to obtain better and more detailed trend data, and to understand the effectiveness of measures taken and planned.

Read more: Pilot project Monitoring Network for Agricultural Species

The population of the partridge has declined sharply in recent decades. Therefore, this species is given special attention. INBO conducts research to support targeted and optimal implementation of measures, as well as to evaluate their effectiveness.

Read more: Population dynamics of the partridge in Flanders and Modelling population dynamics parameters partridge.

The decline of ground-breeding farmland and meadow birds is not only a consequence of agricultural intensification. Predation may also potentially contribute to the decline.

Read more: The effects of predation on ground-nestings farmland and meadow birds and how to mitigate possible negative effects

Flower bed (PARTRIDGE)


Another target group is pollinators, an essential species group for the production of many fruits and vegetables. By participating in the development of European monitoring, INBO is preparing to monitor the state of pollinators in Flanders too.

Read more: SPRING (Strengthening pollinator recovery through indicators and monitoring)

Blinde bij (foto Rollin Verlinde - Vildaphoto)

Soil biodiversity

Soil biodiversity is also very important for agricultural production. INBO is involved in projects on soil quality, such as the EJP-Soil programme and the monitoring of carbon stocks in Flemish soils (Cmon). Complementary to this, INBO wishes to focus on monitoring soil biodiversity through genetic techniques.

Read more: monitoring carbon stocks and EJP-Soil


The Biological Valuation Map (BWK) is an important basis for, among others, the Monitoring Network for Biodiversity in the Agricultural Area. INBO tries to update this map periodically.

Read more: Area covering Biological Valuation Map for Flanders, with research into the possibilities for efficiency gains

Biological Valuation Map v2

INBO participates in the development of geo-data layers for environmental policy based on remote sensing and deep learning. Cases relevant to agriculture and nature are:

  • mapping wildlife damage to crops
  • mapping stagnating water in agricultural areas
  • mapping catch crops and monitoring their sowing and harvesting dates

Read more: Geo.Informed.

Impact of Flemish consumption and production on global biodiversity

The pressure that our agricultural and food system, among others, exerts on biodiversity, is not limited to Flanders. We are developing a reliable, coherent and recurrently monitorable set of indicators that policymakers can use to develop biodiversity-oriented production, consumption and trade policies.

Read more: Impact of Flemish consumption and production on global biodiversity