High Nature Value Farmland in Romania
Rural Development and High Nature Value Farmlands in Romania
The project overall goal is improved economic viability of local livelihoods from High nature Value farmlands in Romania and conservation of agri-environmental benefits.
High Nature Value Farmlands (HNVF) are situated in rural areas where traditional farming is the main eco-nomic 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 inte-grated 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, as-sociated 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 farm-lands, 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.
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 objectives /outcomes
- Policy: Rural development policies better address threats and integrate trends and needs of HNVF communities
- Training and capacity building: HNV farmers and organisations in the study areas have higher capacity to:
- Access markets and to make use of funding opportunities
- Pass on skills and innovative approaches to develop HNV farming into a sustainable in-come-generating activity
- Marketing: HNV farmers/producers in the study areas have better access to markets for their products
Policy : The negotiation of the new measures of the National Rural Development Programme in the 2014-2020 period was delayed to 2014 and early 2015, and the project was exactly on time to contrib-ute, which was unintended when writing the project document. In 2014, the early drafts of the NRD removed assistance for the HNV farming economy in approximately 25% of the area that was eligible for HNV in 2007-13 period. Intense lobbying by project partners was successful in reversing much of this policy, with significant benefits for HNV support in the 2015-20 period. Instead of a 25% reduction of HNV-eligible territory, the project partners succeeded in reducing this to a 10% reduction.
Training and capacity building: capacity building of community facilitators in the pilot areas and knowledge transfer are a key success of the project, due to an ambitious “training for the trainers” pro-gramme on different topics: marketing, funding, food processing, traditional and ecological products, monitoring of associations. It is a little bit early to see the results of such an investment in local capacity building (for example on farmers able to fill the forms – or find locally somebody able to fill them, and make use of funding opportunities).
A key issue was to help consumers to identify the HNV products, with guarantees regarding their place of production and farming / processing practices. In mid-2015, there were intense discus-sions among the project partners about the best way for branding the HNV products. The marketing strategy is now well designed and implementation has already started.
The vitality of the HNVF areas is much higher than expected. Since the beginning of the project, we have observed private and collective initiatives, designed to better sell products and services (tourism, gas-tro). The project has arrived at a good time and has contributed to this increasing prosperity.
Consumer response is also much higher than expected. But the HNV concept is new to consumers. It is just the beginning of a mid-term process, which should continue after the project end.
3 years (203-2016)
1.2 million CHF. funded by the The Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Programme
AGRIDEA (Switzerland), Fundația ADEPT Transilvania, ProPark Foundation for Protected Areas, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme Romania.
Person in charge
Photo: stands organised and financed by the project at the Rural Fest in Bucharest.