During the second week of April, the University of Evora team from Portugal held a workshop for the project Divercrop - divercropblog.wordpress.com. This research project aims to highlight the interactions between current dynamics of Mediterranean agricultural practices, species diversity and local food systems at multiple spatial scales. The team used the experiences of HNV-Link work in the LA of Sítio do Monfurado. The workshop brought together different actors - public administration, research institutions, producers' associations, and non-governmental organizations - in a quest to answer, 'Which farming activities could exist in Sitio de Monfurado for the preservation of biodiversity and food security?' The workshop used the 'Territory Game' approach, which specifically develops a diagnosis of the present situation of the territory, constructs an ideal vision for the future and draws strategies to attain that vision in a participatory environment with the different actors as players of the game. (29 May 2018)
Jogo do território - Relatório (in Portuguese)
During 13-17 May, the Greek project team - a researcher and a farmer - visited Sweden as part of the innovation cross-visit programme of the project. The area in focus is Dalsland. Here, an innovative holistic planning for managing uniquely rich farmlands - facilitation of collaborative land use management - has been developed and tested (for more details, see the innovation report of the area at the link above). The Greek team visited a farm with free-range goats and one with cattle grazing semi-natural grasslands, met with owners of an agro-tourism farm, and interviewed a farmer who had used the mobile abattoir. The discoveries include practical ideas for optimising animal feeding and milking, as well as inspirational examples on marketing products and organising rural tourism around the high nature values of an area. Both areas also exchanged experiences in public participation approaches. Visit HNV-Link_LA Thessaly FB community to follow the day-by-day photo-account of the visit to the northern corner of Europe as seen through Hellenic eyes! (29 May 2018)
A key regional workshop of the HNV-Link project was held on Brač - an island in the Adriatic, where the ways farmers tend the land affects not only the land's quality, fertility and biodiversity, but also the surrounding sea waters. Various actors from the LA of Dalmatian Islands met on 11 May to discuss the relevance of high nature value farmland and plan future actions, including building a local EIP (European Innovation Partnership) group around the mosaic islander landscapes. The meeting was held in connection with the Congress on Rural Tourism to create synergy with the tourism on the island economy. (29 May 2018)
Thibaut Rodriguez from CEN-LR (www.cenlr.org/content/hnv-link/) presented the HNV-Link project at the Forum on Alternative Agricultural Practices. About 50 people attended the event organised by the regional nature park of Alpilles (funded through a LIFE+ project). CEN-LR implements diverse projects in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Causses and Cevennes national park - a remarkable HNV farmland region. More information from http://life-alpilles.com/forum-europeen-sur-les-pratiques-agricoles-alternatives/ (26 April 2018)
The long-awaited funding for renovation of the terraces and stone walls has been made available from April 2018 for the Dalmatian Islands of Croatia - HNV-Link Learning Area. Both elements are known to be important for biodiversity, and both have cultural values. The measure will be funded from the Rural Development Programme as non-productive investments. The HNV-Link partner Local action group LAG 5 had been active in securing this measure and will promote its implementation.
Among the important conditions:
- the investment in the construction of terraces or stone walls is carried out in an area where they are traditionally present, and
- the terrace is arranged for the purpose of its agricultural cultivation.
More information (in Croatian): www.dragodid.org (26 April 2018)
Cross-visits season is open! It is a busy and exciting period for HNV-Link: the learning area teams will be visiting each other during spring-summer of 2018. The objective is to learn about specific innovations to support HNV farming and farmers so that these can be adapted and implemented in new areas. As HNV-Link has discovered so far, there is no shortage of innovative solutions to challenges but knowledge about what works and how it works does not travel well. Encouragement for daring to innovate is also crucial!
The first visit took place on 18-19 April 2018, when the Portuguese Team - farmers from the Sitio de Monfurado and researchers from the university of Évora - visited the learning area of La Vera in Spain. They explored a social innovation of collaboration among many rural actors and attended the Territorios Pastoreados 3 Innovation and Participation - a major networking event on pastoralism and HNV livestock farming in Spain. (26 April 2018)
Regional meetings in all Learning Areas are events of particular importance: this is where the results of the innovation work across the whole project are presented to the key actors in the 10 project regions. Which of these many innovations will spark interest and serve as inspiration?
The first of the meetings - a conference on "The Future of High Nature Value farming in Romania" - took place on the 22nd of April 2018 in Romania. The meeting was made part of (is this phrasing correct?) the AGRARIA Fair - the biggest agrifood fair in the country. The conference was opened by the prefect of Cluj County, Aurel Cherecheş. Among the invited speakers were representatives of the European Commission (EIP Agri), Romanian ministries (Agriculture and Rural Development; Forestry and Water), Local Action Group Somes, Transilvanian farmers, NGOs, consultants, researchers and students. Over 100 people attended the conference on HNV farming, and many more visitors of the AGRARIA Fair got to hear about the HNV farmland.
Mugurel Jitea from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca, Romania, describes the significance of the meeting at the national television (starts at min 32) (26 April 2018):
A guest post on the EIP-AGRI process in Ireland by HNV Link's Irish coordinator Dr James Moran. The feedback from other attendees is that he was brilliant sharing unique knowledge in the application process for an EIP in agriculture. National EIP-AGRI groups is certainly a possibility to try for issues of conservation on farmland. EIP-AGRI BLOG
The presentation is available: James Moran EIP-AGRI BLOG (18 Jan 2018)
Croatia. Fantastic initiative from HNv-Link partner in Croatia: the national park of Mljet will allocate funding to support farmers who implement nature-friendly practices on this island of exceptional beauty and natural richness. National Park Mljet is one of the stakeholders in HNV-Link and plans to strengthen island farming in ways that maintain its agro-biodiversity and contribute to sustainable development in its protected natural areas. The initiative is all more important because, so far, there has been little awareness of or attention to local multifunctional farming systems that are respectful of unique island resources. (18 Jan 2018)
Spain. HNV-Link in Spain will once again take part in a major event – workshop ‘Grazed Lands’. Its motto this year is ‘innovation and participation’, which is very much aligned with HNV-Link goals. The workshop targets local stakeholders, farmers, and policymakers and will take place in Plasencia (Cáceres, Spain) during 18 - 19 April. Everyone interested AND fluent in Spanish is welcome! The event itself and its major publication are good examples to adapt elsewhere. Request more information here (18 Jan 2018)
The UK. In early 2018 the coordinator for Dartmoor Learning Area, Gwyn Jones, organised a conference on results-based payments in Torfaen, Wales. The programme featured speakers from the Dartmoor and Burren Learning Areas. Other contributors were from other areas in the UK, including the DG Env-funded results-based pilot in the Yorkshire Dales, and from Ireland, including the hen harrier EIP project. With the logistical elements of the conference itself financed by a cooperation between 3 local LEADER action groups, the conference was a good example of HNV-Link leveraging other funding. Conference participants, who were a real mix of farmers, NGO and government, welcomed the opportunity to hear in detail for the first time about this innovative approach to agri-environment support. The event was the subject of the weekly agriculture programme on Radio Cymru.
More: Dartmoor Farming Futures (DFF) (18 Jan 2018)
Ireland. In Ireland, 50% of the new EIP-AGRI projects are on HNV farmland! This highlights a considerable innovation potential of such areas. HNV-Link's Irish coordinator Dr James Moran also has a guest post on the EIP-AGRI process in Ireland. He also shared unique knowledge of the application process for an EIP in agriculture. National EIP-AGRI groups are certainly possibilities to try for issues of conservation on farmland. (18 Jan 2018)