High Nature Value Farmland

Traditional agricultural systems have shaped the European landscape and created habitats for a wide range of species, many of which are of particular conservation concern. High nature value farmland comprises hot spots of biodiversity in rural areas and is usually characterised by extensive farming practices. Its conservation value is acknowledged in several EU policy documents such as the EU Regulation on rural development (EC 1257/1999). Distribution and conservation status of high nature value farmland, however, has not yet been assessed at the pan-European level.

Current policy measures appear insufficient to prevent further decline in high nature value farmland areas and thus to reach the 2010 biodiversity target. The geographical targeting of agriculture subsidies, especially of less favoured area support and agri-environment schemes, needs to be reconsidered. A major effort is needed to fill the data gaps on habitat and species distribution and the targeting and effectiveness of support measures.

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