High Nature Value Farmlands (HNVF) are situated in rural areas where traditional farming is the main economic activity and a key factor in nature conservation. They are characterised by the presence of natural and semi-natural vegetation (grasslands), generally very species-rich, and in some cases they are integrated into a large scale continuous mosaic landscape which includes natural structural elements (such as field margins, hedgerows, stonewalls, patches of woodland or scrub, small rivers) and patches of arable land and orchards.
HNV farmlands in Romania are an estimated 30% of the total utilisable agricultural area: 5 million ha, associated with smaller holding sizes in hilly areas within the Carpathian arc.
Traditional farming practices are responsible for maintaining many of Romania’s (and Europe's) HNV farmlands, which deliver a host of public benefits (goods and services), including valuable cultural landscapes, high quality water and food, quality of life, recreation opportunities, carbon sequestration, flood control. These benefit wider society, beyond the communities that live within HNV areas.
HNV farmlands are also worthy of support for their economic and agricultural productivity which secure the livelihoods of many farming communities in Romania. Support given to HNV farmlands contributes to the prosperity of local communities, by providing opportunities for market diversification such as the development of rural tourism and businesses based on high quality and healthy products.
In spite of their wider value, most of these semi-natural grasslands and mosaic, extensively farmed lands are under increasing pressure due to abandonment, intensification and changes in land use. They are threatened because the small-scale farming systems no longer offer financial security. This represents a major socio-economic as well as environmental challenge.
Specific issues which are being targeted through this project:
Finding ways to maintain traditional farming systems is critical not only for securing the survival of vibrant rural communities and high quality food, but also for conserving nature and the services it provides. It is crucial to help farmers obtain access to the two sources of income: market sales (of HNV goods and services) and state funding (which should be regarded not as support funding, but as payment for valuable public goods).
The project overall goal is improved economic viability of local livelihoods from HNV farmlands in Romania and conservation of agri-environmental benefits.
1. Policy: Rural development policies better address threats and integrate trends and needs of HNVF communities
2. Training and capacity building: HNV farmers and organisations in the study areas have higher capacity to:
3. Marketing: HNV farmers/producers in the study areas have better access to markets for their products
The project aims to use innovative means to bring genuine long-term prosperity to these areas, stimulating commercial viability as well as public funding support (“public money for public goods and services”). There are growing opportunities to revive rural economies, to secure livelihoods and maintain HNVF areas. Growing interest amongst urban populations in food quality and provenance, as evidenced by the growing popularity of farmer markets, food festivals and movements, is opening new markets for such products.
Zarand, Târnava Mare, Târnava Mică, Pogany Havas, Valea Barcăului, Mara-Cosău-Creasta Cocoșului.
3 years: 2013 - 2016
The Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Programme
WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme Romania
Local partners: Zarand Association, Milvus Group, Pogány-havas Association, Agapis Foundation for Education and Local Development, Apavie Association