of a program that could blossom after Brexit.
plan to push for policy changes
but are nervous about
losing current protections.
But the pending departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union will free lawmakers to craft UK-specific legislation - and some environmental researchers spot a rare chance to use their expertise to shape future policy.
She gave evidence to a
parliamentary inquiry into the impact of Brexit on the environment,
which was led by Member of Parliament Mary Creagh and
released its conclusions on 4 January.
To avoid a sudden change in how things work, the UK government says it will introduce a 'great repeal bill' that will largely convert EU laws into UK ones.
But it will then be able
to modify or strike out EU laws, something that currently requires
unwieldy negotiations with the rest of the EU.
Creagh's committee has
called for an act to safeguard existing protections for UK wildlife
ahead of the implementation of the great repeal bill.
This amounts to around
£1.8 billion (US$2.2 billion) annually. A smaller proportion - £400
million - goes to programs that benefit the environment, such as
paying for buffer strips between fields to promote wildlife habitat
or to reduce damage from fertilizers.
Reforms in 2013 were meant to make CAP greener, such as a rule requiring farmers to grow at least three crops to maintain biodiversity, but this did not assuage all concerns.
In September, Dieter Helm wrote a report exploring ways in which a post-Brexit United Kingdom might replace CAP.
His preferred option is a radical overhaul that would eliminate automatic subsidies to farmers. Instead, the government could target investment at rural programs that provide proven benefits, such as reducing pollution or increasing biodiversity, he suggests.
These could involve payments to farmers who modify their farms to provide such green benefits.
Richard Brazier, who studies the environmental impact of land use and agriculture at the University of Exeter and was a witness in the parliamentary inquiry, also spots an opportunity to reform CAP.
His specialism is landscape restoration, in which farmed land is altered to provide better 'ecosystem services' alongside food production.
One example is reintroducing beavers to benefit flood management. A UK-specific agriculture policy could aim to rewild between 1% and 10% of farmed land, he suggests.
He recommends that any new policy removes existing barriers to rewilding, such as CAP rules that effectively penalize farmers for transforming woodland or ponds into wildlife habitat that does not produce crops.
The parliamentary report also mentions the possibility that rewilding, and the removal of these disincentives, could feature more prominently in UK-only laws.
But there are risks associated with losing CAP.
The government has guaranteed to fund existing CAP payments until 2020, but on 4 January, environment minister Andrea Leadsom pledged to "design a domestic successor to CAP" while scrapping various pieces of EU legislation - including the three-crop rule - and "cutting the red tape that comes out of Brussels".
Even researchers who have criticized CAP in the past fear that modifications could undermine its environmental benefits.
Lynn Dicks, an applied ecologist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, co-authored a highly cited critique of the 2013 reforms (EU Agricultural Reform Fails on Biodiversity), but in 2013 she also reported that many schemes designed to protect wildlife produced consistent benefits (A Transparent Process for Evidence-Informed Policy Making).