ADEPT’s policy work at national and EU level has brought policy changes which have had a major effect on the viability of these high nature farming systems more widely in Romania and in Europe. The key to success in our policy advocacy is that we produce clear, technical justifications for proposals, offering reasoned and practical solutions rather than simple demands to policy-makers.
At national level ADEPT’s work includes the original design of the national scheme to support farmers who manage high-nature value grassland. As a result of our pilot grassland scheme, the only one in Romania, the measure was simplified for farmers: now it is the most popular measure in Romania’s Rural Development Programme:
- over 230,000 farmers are paid incentives to maintain over
- 1.2 million hectares of High Nature Value grassland.
In 2007, ADEPT led the case for inclusion of Târnava Mare in Natura 2000, the EU network of protected areas. We overcame initial reluctance at national level for protection of man-made landscapes. This was an important precedent, which led to the protected status of other similar landscapes in Romania.
In addition, in 2011 we designed, and had accepted, significant new measures to protect grazed orchards and damp grasslands which were not protected until then. Grazed orchards are very important for biodiversity, and lowland damp haymeadows are the most threatened habitat in Europe. As a result, farmers managing 400,000 ha of these two habitats are eligible for payment for good management. We continue to work with the Romanian Ministry to make support measures more practical and farmer-friendly in the future.
At EU level, we work with technical advisory groups in DG Agriculture & Rural Development, and DG Environment, and have carried out policy studies on their behalf. We have influenced some specific measures in the Common Agricultural Policy 2014-2020, which will greatly benefit these high-nature farmed landscapes and associated small-scale farming communities, in Romania and also more widely in Europe. We are active in Europe-wide conservation and rural development policy groups such as European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, European Environmental Bureau, Agricultural and Rural Convention, and Central and East European Web for Biodiversity.
The strong links between our practical projects on the ground and our policy design/advocacy have been remarkably effective. ADEPT’s policy influence is much increased by the fact that we can speak from on-theground experience. And ADEPT’s local solutions and results are consolidated and greatly amplified by our policy work. This has proved to be an excellent formula for success, which has attracted European attention since there are very few other programmes integrated in this way.
On 28 June the Romanian government announced the expansion of a measure to support corncrakes. Sounds good – but unfortunately the conditions for funding under the measure are very damaging to other wildlife; and a massive area of 500,000 ha (5,000 square km or a quarter the size of Wales) of High Nature Value flower-rich grassland and associated animal species was directly threatened. This measure would have changed the landscape forever.