Comment: Agriculture in the EU is facing a number of constraints, for various reasons. Markets for agricultural products are saturated, consequently traditional land-use systems need to receive increased attention. The Czech Republic, as with other accession countries in Central and Eastern Europe, are especially confronted with the problems associated with traditional agricultural production. As competition on the European markets increaes, there is a risk that this situation will result in decreased farm income and employment opportunities in rural and remote areas. The ongoing Common Agricultural Policy reform process and changing patterns of world trade will force farmers to focus more on their multifunctional role as both custodians of the countryside and market oriented producers, in particular in some of the disadvantaged areas and remote regions. It is widely recognized that the development of rural areas can no longer be based on agriculture alone and that diversification both within and beyond the agricultural sector is indispensable in order to promote, through diversified incomes, viable and sustainable rural communities. In addition, agriculture in the Czech Republic is, after 50 years of collective organization, in a transition phase. The land is being returned to its original owners or to new owners. This process is very demanding because it involves completely different economic and organizational conditions. A consequence of this change is that some agricultural enterprises are very small and economically not viable. This situation, particularly in marginal areas, may lead to the abandonment or neglect of the land, with the local population migrating to other regions. The resulting land-use system may no longer be sustainable. To avoid such negative effects many measures at the policy and technical level are needed. The Second European Conference on Rural Development in Salzburg (12-14 November 2003) concluded that sustainable economic growth of the agricultural sector must come increasingly through diversification, innovation and value added products that consumers demand. Marginal areas have fewer possibilities for alternative land uses. Often they are limited by natural constraints for a higher productivity. However, they often have a combination of natural resources which favour biodiversity and are a basis for an attractive landscape. These factors are potential assets for eco-tourism. The use of the agricultural land by an extensive grassland system could contribute to such objectives and help to improve the livelihood of the rural population. The Czech Republic entered the EU in 2004; this integration will mean that farmers will be faced with an increasingly competitive market situation and probably reduced export possibilities. There is a risk that marginal land (due to low soil fertility, great distance to the markets etc.) will be abandoned and as a consequence invasive plant species (mostly weed species) could become dominant and vegetation start to degenerate. Such a situation would have negative effects on biodiversity and diminish the attractiveness of the landscape. In addition, there are also potential ecological risks, when farmers have to apply herbicides to control the heavy weed infestation. This situation could also occur because the area cropped with cereals, rape and other crops is reduced in regions which do not offer optimal growing conditions for arable crops. Abandoned arable land is especially prone to weed infestation and the becomes a seed bank for a larger area. It was probably the awareness of this potential ecological development as well as the socio-economic consequences that determined the Czech Government to promote the development of alternative land-use systems. In particular, in the border areas of the country (North Bohemia, North Moravia and other regions) a critical need for supportive measures was identified. The main objective is to develop land-use systems which are beneficial to the environment and promote diversification of agricultural income. Such situations are also very common in Western Europe, and agricultural policy is increasingly stressing the need to help farmers adopt a multifunctional role as custodians of the countryside as well as being market oriented producers.