Together with cattle & pigs, horses & ponys have played a vital part in the shaping of the New Forest (UK)



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High Nature Value (HNV) farming in the Europe

Europe has a huge variety of low-intensity farmland managed by a wide diversity of farming systems. Food cropping has been carried out in southern Europe for at least eight thousand years, starting not long after the final ending of the last glaciation and seems to have spread very rapidly to most lowland areas of the continent,though some areas of inland northern Scandinavia were only colonised by settled farmers in the 19th century! Most farming started by the adaptation of the previous natural vegetation, though on the shores of the Baltic, humans brought the coastal meadows which emerged from the sea as the land was released from the weight of the glacial ice into farming use as they formed.

While farming sometimes implied complete clearance, in particular to plant crops, much of the agricultural landscape was, and to a substantial extent remains, in a 'semi-natural' condition - the original vegetation was modifed by farming, but retained many natural features and processes. Such ancient semi-natural habitats include not only grasslands, but heathlands, scrub, wood pastures and wood meadows. The result of their longevity, as Bruchmann and Hohbohm1 show, is that Europe is extremely important on a global scale for endemic species in such habitats (much more so than for forests, for example).

One of the Forum's main aims is to raise awareness of this richness - that farming of great significance to nature conservation occurs from Norway to Italy, from Ireland to Turkey, from Estonia to Portugal, and indeed that even these systems fall into a wider context extending east and south into adjoining regions. The social context in which such farming takes place also varies greatly, but in most regions where it survives, farmers are under considerable socio-economic pressure. The pattern is not a simple one of East and West, of 'old' EU Member States and 'new' arrivals. These problems are complex, but on another level, uncomfortably simple! Our second aim is to explain the implications of these issues for delivering EU environmental, agriculture and rural development policy goals.

HNV farming book:

HNV farming policy:

HNV farmland and farming systems:

Sectoral projects:

1Bruchmann I. and Hobohm C. Halting the loss of biodiversity: Endemic vascular plants in grasslands of Europe.- in "Grassland in a changing world". Volume 15. Grassland science in europe. (15.100 KB)

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European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Date: 2024/07/19
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