1st Network Meeting in Montpellier

The HNV-Link Network held its first meeting in Montpellier, France on the 1-2 of September. 32 people from all 11 partner countries attended.

1st Network Meeting in Montpellier

The meeting was above all a methodological seminar that allowed HNV-Link partners to discuss, adjust and validate the methodology for two key work packages. How to build a common understanding of describing and assessing the baseline situation of the 10 Learning Areas and to establish what HNV innovation is and how to collect information on relevant examples. The latter task seems to be essential since the literature survey on innovations in HNV farmland areas or relevant for HNV farming systems produced very few results (report will be available on the website by the end of the year).

The meeting also allowed sharing first experiences of the partners in the project, and present preliminary results of work so far. From its launch just three months ago, the project yielded 37 media pieces, including articles in farmer magazines, on radio and through EU-communication channels. A launching event in Croatia was great success. Burren - a project area in Ireland - host a visit from the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan. The project is gradually becoming known also on social networks. The participants engaged in a small workshop in identifying potential HNV actors and on communication and dissemination activities that can best reach them as well the general public.

The partners also critically assessed opportunities to engage with a revised system of agricultural advisory in the EU - the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS; link to www.proakis.eu). The general feeling was that AKIS, though being an important development in the delivery of advisory to farmers across the EU, has little to offer to actors in HNV farmlands. Although HNV farmland regions present a considerable portion of rural fabric, they are still poorly reached by agricultural and rural development advisory, education and research. It was felt that the project could bring out these concerns to the EU level. On the other hand, several partners shared successful experiences of engagement with advisory on local and regional levels.

HNV farming areas are an important component of European agriculture not only for their natural values but also for cultural heritage and quality products. This became evident also in Montpellier: an important part of the meeting was getting to know all the partners, not least through tasting of local products from most of the project Learning Areas. During the two days in Montpellier the diversity and richness of HNV farmlands was really made tangible!

The partnership expresses warmest thanks to the Learning Area of Causses & Cévennes for hospitality and informative touring of its environs.

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