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Agricultural activities have far-reaching effects on the environment by altering natural habitats and affecting landscapes, plants and animals. That is why the European Union pays the utmost attention to environmental issues when developing the common agricultural policy (CAP) and promotes sustainable agriculture that is respectful of the natural environment. The 2003 CAP reform marked an important step by making the granting of community funding conditional upon compliance with environmental standards. Community initiatives also aim to limit all pollution of agricultural origin, to promote the development of the production and use of biofuels, and to protect biodiversity. The Union also optimises the benefits of forests and supports initiatives aimed at preventing fires and safeguarding wildlife, natural habitats and birds.

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