Navarra – developing indicators for High Nature Value farming and forestry
EFNCP has been working with GAVRN S.A. and the Government of Navarra on the development of HNV farming and forestry indicators for monitoring the effects of rural development programmes (RDPs) in this autonomous region of Spain.
From the outset, the aim of this work was to come up with a system of indicators that would satisfy the requirements of the CMEF (Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework applied to all RDPs in the EU), and that would provide genuinely useful information on trends in farming to feed into policy.
The first step was to select the categories of farmland and forest that are broadly semi-natural in character, as these are the core of HNV farmland. They consist of a range of permanent pasture and meadow categories, and forest types dominated by native species. The project was able to identify the extent and distribution of these semi-natural land-cover types by using the LPIS data base supplemented by regional farmland and forest data bases.
The approximate extent of semi-natural farmland and forests provides two basic HNV indicators at the regional level. These figures can be updated regularly using the available data sources, and the location of any significant changes can be identified on the map, to be investigated in more detail.
The second step was to identify landscapes with a high diversity of low-intensity landuses in mosaic patterns (known technically as Type 2 HNV farmland). The landuses selected were dryland permanent crops and arable fallows, plus semi-natural landcover types. The map shows the 1x1km squares with the highest heterogeneity (small patch size, high density of patch borders, high diversity of land uses). As with the map of semi-natural farmland, this data can be regularly updated to provide an indication of trends in mosaic landscapes at a regional and local level.
As expected, there are areas of considerable overlap with the map of semi-natural farmland and forests, but there are also distinct areas of low-intensity mosaics that do not coincide with the predominantly semi-natural landscapes.
It was clear that the two approaches summarised above (semi-natural landuses and low-intensity mosaics) did not capture certain agricultural areas known to be of importance for steppeland bird species of conservation concern. This type of HNV farmland (known technically as Type 3), was identified using bird distribution data.
From this analysis at the regional level, it is possible to devise a set of basic indicators of trends in HNV landcover patterns, such as semi-natural farmland and low-intensity mosaics. Additional indicators were selected to provide an indication at regional level of changes in farming systems. For example, the regional number of livestock of native breeds is one indicator, since the shift to more intensive, non-HNV livestock systems is generally accompanied by a change to non-native breeds.
However, regional-level indicators have only limited scope to provide meaningful information on trends in HNV farming. The most useful indicators will be those that tell us the trends affecting distinct HNV farming systems and their associated practices.
A combined map was produced to show the areas with the highest concentrations of the three types of HNV farmland. The intention was not to define or calculate the extent of exclusive “HNV farmland zones” - HNV farmland is clearly quite widespread outside these areas, as shown by Map 1. Rather, the usefulness of identifying areas dominated by certain types of HNV farmland is that they provide a basis for characterising the HNV farming systems using this land, and for designing indicators for monitoring these systems.
As a result, four distinct HNV farming systems were identified at the regional level, as shown in the map
Having identified four broad HNV farming systems, the really interesting and useful work begins, which is to investigate and understand the characteristics of these different farming systems, their biodiversity values and the tendencies affecting them. Only through this analysis is it possible to devise a set of indicators that will provide meaningful data on trends in farming systems, and that can help to inform the evaluation of rural development policy.
The idea is to produce, for each of the four HNV farming systems in the region, a set of indicators that can be divided into three categories:
Land cover types that are characteristic of the system and of its biodiversity value, and that may be most vulnerable to change. For example, in the case of the Cantabrian mountain livestock system, a relevant type would be hay meadows on steep slopes in remote valleys
Farming practices that are characteristic of the system and of its biodiversity value, and that may be most vulnerable to change. For example, in the case of the Pyrenean mountain livestock system, a relevant practice would be the use of native sheep breeds that practice seasonal transhumance between mountains and lowlands
- Wildlife species that are characteristic of the system and of its biodiversity value, and that may be most vulnerable to change.
We hope to continue this work in 2011 by examining one of the four HNV farming systems in more detail, in order to come up with a workable set of indicators. The report of the project so far is available in Spanish (Report of the project in Spanish; 8.399 KB)