The German „Serengeti“ – large-scale grazing with Heck-cattle in Thuringia


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High Nature Value grasslands: securing the ecosystem services of European farming post 2013

International conference: 7-9 September 2010, Sibiu, Romania

Europe faces a multitude of social and environmental problems:

Participants International conference: 7-9 September, Sibiu, Romania
  • The EU has failed to meet its target to stop biodiversity loss by 2010. Europe’s high-biodiversity landscapes are being destroyed by perverse incentives from the CAP
  • Rural employment continues to fall and rural economies to fail in spite of massive income support payments
  • Fires and floods are on the increase
  • Europe is failing to meet it carbon reduction targets

EU policies so far have failed to solve these problems.

High biodiversity farmed landscapes dominated by semi-natural pastures and meadows (High Nature Value landscapes) deliver a whole range of ecosystem services that are worth billions of Euros if valued properly: biodiversity conservation, recreational landscapes, clean water, resistance to fire and flood, mitigation of climate change, high quality food produced at low carbon cost, viable rural communities. 

These Public Goods are not rewarded by normal markets. The current CAP leaves small-scale traditional farms at a disadvantage. As they and the landscapes they support disappear through the EU’s drive for competitiveness, pollution, floods and fires increase, and biodiversity, rural communities and valued landscapes are lost. But these landscapes, and the farms associated with them, can solve multiple social and environmental problems in an extremely cost-effective manner and can and should be supported by public funds.

To achieve this win-win of sustainable landscapes delivering wide environmental and social benefits, a wholesale reform of the CAP is needed: redistribution of funding from “conventional” systems dependent on heavy use of fossil fuels and fertilisers to those which support the ecosystem services which are very valuable to society, but which are poorly rewarded by the market.  Without such changes, we risk moving further from the European model of “multifunctional” agriculture delivering multiple benefits, towards the extremes of intensive agriculture in some areas and abandoned rural spaces in others.

The conference attracted 140 delegates from 18 countries from Azerbaijan to Spain and from Norway to Albania. A range of expert speakers was complemented by video messages from Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik and Prince Charles. As always a field trip, this time to the Târnava Mare region where conference partners Fundatia Adept work, gave all-important local context to the plenary sessions.

Outputs of the conference include

  • a joint policy document supported by leading NGOs in this sector, The European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, World Wide Fund for Nature, BirdLife International, Butterfly Conservation Europe
  • a summary of conference conclusions which has been adopted by a wide cross-section of conservation and rural development NGOs in Europe
  • a conference brochure that examines Transylvania as a case study , with a description of land management and issues facing small-scale farmers and rural communities in the area.

These documents, and the NGO alliance that the conference has helped to create, will all contribute to advocacy of HNV-targeted CAP reforms which will continue over the next few months.

The conference was organised in partnership with Fundatia Adept and with the kind assistance of Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu and formed part of EFNCP’s 2010 DG Environment Life+ Work Programme. More information on EFNCP activities in Romania.

More information

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European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Date: 2024/06/18
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