Business and Biodiversity


European Learning Network on Functional Agrobiodiversity

The realization that agriculture has to become more sustainable is incorporated in policy instruments from national to global levels. Knowledge on how biodiversity can be mobilized to make agriculture sustainable is growing. Throughout Europe, farmers, researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders are implementing various forms of functional agrobiodiversity. At present, this practical experience is extremely fragmented and barely accessible. The ’European Learning Network on Functional Agrobiodiversity’ (ELN-FAB) aims to change this.

Since early 2009 ECNC has hosted the Secretariat of this European Learning Network. The Network’s activities are guided by a Steering Group consisting of European policymakers and scientists representing the following organizations:

  • European Commission DG Environment;
  • European Landowners’ Organization (ELO);
  • Copa-Cogeca, an umbrella organization for farmers and their cooperatives in the EU;
  • Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Netherlands;
  • Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food, Germany;
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Estonia;
  • French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB), France;
  • University of Lancaster, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, UK;
  • Institute of Agro-Food Research and Technology (IRTA), Spain.


The ELN-FAB aims to provide a platform and facility for exchange of knowledge and practical experiences between farmers, policymakers and scientists to enable fast and effective implementation of best practices in order to help to optimize agrobiodiversity benefits and promote sustainable agriculture. The Network focuses on the 27 Member States of the EU, plus Norway and Switzerland.


More specifically, the Network aims to:

  • stimulate dialogue, influence policymaking and support implementation of best practices;
  • generate and exchange knowledge on best and worst practices as well as on mechanisms and practices underlying functional agrobiodiversity;
  • undertake outreach activities;
  • provide advice to farmers, policymakers, scientists and other stakeholders.

Time frame

The secretariat of the European Learning Network has been active since 1 January 2009. The project time frame has been extended until the end of 2012.



The ELN-FAB is financially supported by:

  • Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Netherlands;
  • Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Switzerland;
  • Flemish Land Agency (VLM), Belgium;
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Estonia;
  • European Environment Agency (EEA);
  • the European Commission LIFE+ programme.

Fundraising continues in order to expand the Network in the long term.


Since the secretariat was established it has made sure that the European Learning Network on Functional AgroBiodiversity functions properly in providing the different stakeholders with a means to share knowledge and experience. Key products focus on generating knowledge and communication between the stakeholders. These include:

  • a multi-annual work programme for the ELN-FAB setting out the future direction and priorities;
  • the ELN-FAB website, providing information on functional agrobiodiversity, examples of good practices from all over Europe, news and more;
  • a register of projects throughout Europe covering the subject of functional agrobiodiversity;
  • annual ELN-FAB European seminars bringing together representatives of the various target groups from several countries, and collecting and exchanging experience;
  • communication and outreach activities, such as leaflets, a quarterly newsletter (on the right) and presentations at events;
  • a series of awareness-raising workshops about FAB throughout Europe to form working partnerships;
  • a handbook for FAB to help the stakeholders to strengthen the role of FAB in their operations;
  • a directory of stakeholder groups on European and national levels and other possible intermediaries who could actively participate in the project.

ELN-FAB is involved in the following research projects by providing a dissemination platform and bringing in a European pool of expertise:

SUSTAIN - Soil Functional Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a Transdisciplinary Approach, funded by the ERA-NET SNOWMAN under the 6th Framework Programme of the EU;

EcoFinders - Ecological Function and Biodiversity Indicators in European Soils, funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the EU.