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Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania
Conservarea biodiversităţii şi dezvoltare comunitară în Transilvania

Green Industry Innovation Programme

Sustainable Incomes and High Nature Value farmland

The project’s main objective is to encourage environmental friendly and profitable farmer’s production in five local communities in the Transylvanian region by combining traditional land management and ecosystem services.

We have identified certain key problems through which, by building capacity of local farmers, we can significantly improve sustainability of small-scale farming communities.

The key problem for this project is environmental pressure from change in land use.

  1. Increase in sheep numbers and changes to sheep management have led to much increased flock stocking rates. Need for water (mainly for traditional cheese production) and only localized availability of water means that sheep are concentrated in certain areas.
  2.  Grasslands have the capacity to capture significant CO2, while arable land is a source of CO2 emissions. 
  3. This situation is creating environmental problems. Sheepfolds depend on water sources and so there is a high concentration of sheep in small areas around the existing water sources, damaging the landscape and the environment. Excessive sheep number leads to soil degradation, and loss of carbon storage by thegrass.
  4. The reduction of the number of young farmers remaining in farming is creating further pressures on economic viability of Romania’s farmer areas

These problems can be overcome by introducing innovative solutions in land management and in marketing, to make balanced agricultural activities more practical and sustainable, and more profitable.
The key element of this project is developing innovative solutions at micro-scale, and then using these for demonstration and training to spread the replication of the solutions, by adoption by farmers.
To counter these problems the project will

  1. Make grassland management more viable for younger people using innovative machinery. The Brielmaier mowers we will buy and give to the local breeders associations, will transform grassland management by allowing mowing of inaccessible and sloping areas.
  2. make life at sheepfolds more attractive / acceptable for young people, with modern facilities. For this we are designing innovative new sheepfolds which will offer shepherds electricity and hot water (via solar PV and heating panels). These will be implemented at 3 sheepfolds in critical sites we have identified under EU LIFE+ dry grassland project (2010-2013).

We will also dig wells at these sites to allow the sheepfolds greater independence from flowing water, which is scarce, and location nears streams also leads to downstream water pollution. Small submersible water pumps for the wells will be powered by the PV generation.
The increased hygiene permitted by electricity, hot water and sufficient water in the model units will also help provide markets for the products (milk, cheese etc.) as they will be higher quality, and in compliance with EU hygiene regulations.

  • We will also carry out mapping and maintenance of traditional fruit trees in the grasslands, which offer addition income to local farmers and also have important ecological role (spoil stabilization, again linked to carbon storage, shade for sheep, and steeping stones for important bird species, as well as being rare varieties of fruit trees offering important agro-biodiversity.
  • Finally, we will act to improve economic viability of the wider project area. Demonstration micro-processing equipment will bring direct economic benefit and transfer skills, to one village / at least 10 farmers and producers in the area. And an innovative electronic clearing house for market information, between farmers, and also between farmers and customers, will benefit an even wider area (85,000 ha, 20 villages) by promoting direct sales of local products. This will promote associations of small-scale producers, and key to their economic survival. Lack of marketing capability and in particular the capability to work in associations, is a severe impediment to the balanced economic development these High Nature Value landscapes.

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Supported by a grant from Norway through the Norway Grants 2009-2014, in the frame of Green Industry Innovation Programme Romania.

Sponsorul Oficial - Fundația Orange România