Advice on EU High Nature Value Farming

Published Wednesday, 3rd December 2014 in Research news

Highland farming

A consortium of continental researchers, including Professor Davy McCracken of SRUC, have had the importance of their research into High Nature Value Farming recognised by the European Commission.

They recommend a new framework for ensuring a co ordinated, EU Wide approach to the identification and assessment of such farmland.

Their recently published paper in “Journal of Environmental Management, was highlighted in “Science for Environmental Policy”, a European Commission news and information service designed to help the busy policymaker keep up-to-date with the latest environmental research findings needed to design, implement and regulate effective policies.

Their paper explains that with over half of Europe’s species dependent on agricultural habitats, protecting ‘high nature value’ farmland is vital to biodiversity conservation. However, according to the authors the identification and assessment of such farmland requires careful co-ordination. They present a framework to help the process together with a set of key recommendations.

According to Davy McCracken High Nature Value farmlands (HNVf) can either have a high proportion of semi-natural vegetation, involve low-intensity farming with mosaics of semi-natural and cultivated land, including hedgerows, ponds and trees, or support rare species.

“The EU requires that all Member States monitor their HNVf, as part of their assessment of Rural Development Programmes,” he says. “However, decisions about how to asses then vary across each Member State. As a result there is often a lack of accurate data and it is difficult to gain an EU-wide perspective on the extent and condition of HNVf. Our framework allows detailed local data to be combined to give a cohesive assessment at the Member State, and ultimately EU, level. It uses contributions from local organisations such as farmers’ organisations, NGOs and local authorities.”

For more details read the Science for Environmental Policy paper (pdf).

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