Modernization that takes heritage into account in Bulgaria

High biodiversity and outstanding beauty of Western Stara Planina in Bulgaria make it a priority area for national and European natural and cultural heritage. Despite its proximity to Sofia, the area is difficult to reach, which causes major socio-economic constraints to rural development. The HNV-Link project team carried out a survey among various actors of the area and then held an innovation seminar with them in July 2017. This work led to formulating a long-term vision for the High Nature Value (HNV) farming in the area: "Agricultural modernization taking into account the natural and cultural heritage in the region”. The vision calls for an integrated socio-economic development and nature conservation of the area.

The participants of the seminar acknowledged that agricultural production will inevitably modernize and therefore the challenge is to preserve the ecological characteristics of the area, both within its protected areas and on HNV farmlands. The participants identified the most important innovative solutions to the area: developing and introducing new technologies and farming techniques tailored to the requirements for HNV farmland, establishing regional or product brands to promote benefits from sustainable grazing of livestock, fostering cooperation among farmers and establishing mobile advisory centers for HNV farmers. Many of these solutions depend on a stable and robust regulatory framework. Thus there is a need to adapt the rules for CAP Pillar 1 support schemes to the needs of HNV farming, tailor the criteria of national coupled livestock breeding support schemes to the regional conditions, push for long-term contracts for the use of municipal grasslands and adjust the regulation of direct sales.

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