The European ECO-Forum and UNEP Regional Office for Europe implemented the project “Identification of High Nature Value (HNV) farmland: support to non-EU accession countries” in line with the Pan-European Biodiversity and Landscape Strategy (PEBLDS) and financed by the Norwegian Government (2006-2007). BIOTICA Ecological Society, an IUCN Member, was involved in the project in bringing together civil society experts from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia on behalf of the ECO-Forum.
The HNV farmland concept, developed in the European Union, was designed to fit the environmental conditions of Eastern European countries, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA). The classification of the HNV areas, divided into 4 types and 23 sub-types, is based on the ecosystem approach and was developed in consideration of wildlife values. The criteria for designating HNV farmlands are similar to criteria for ecological networks and Important Bird/Plant Areas.
The role of EECCA HNV farmlands in biodiversity conservation and species support at the global, European and national scales is underestimated, according to the ECO-Forum experts . In addition to supporting biodiversity, these farmlands produce the majority of livestock products in these regions.
Within the project, the political, economic and socio-economic factors determining HNV farmland conditions in the EECCA were summarized and recommendations for decision-makers, international organizations and NGOs were suggested. The project also produced a study on Moldova which features all the HNV farmland in the country including its forest and grasslands. A brochure was also published.
The project results were successfully reported at the plenary of the Belgrade 2007 Ministerial Conference on the "Environment for Europe" process, noted among the PEBLDS's achievements and reported within IUCN’s "Countdown 2010" initiative. The project can be used as a model for similar actions and can contribute to expand information, reporting and incentive mechanisms on this effort, following the example of the EU-15 and other countries.
Read more on the vision of EECCA experts on HNV farmland here.