HNV-Link Newsletter #4 (2017)

HNV-Link project aims to identify and share innovations that support farming systems in areas of high biodiversity across Europe. It supports efficient innovation transfer between its 10 Learning Areas.

HNV-Link's search for innovations across High Nature Value farmlands

HNV-Link network has created the Innovation Compendium, a unique compilation of grassroots innovation examples relevant to High Nature Value (HNV) farming systems.

In this Newsletter, we introduce the Innovation Compendium, present news from the 10 Learning Areas and outline the next project steps and coming outputs, including our education materials.

HNV farming innovation

‘HNV innovation’ is defined in the project as a change in the social, institutional, regulatory, market or farming approach that raises the ability to conserve HNV farming and its characteristics. Even if an HNV innovation lacks an explicit nature conservation objective, it still aids in maintaining high nature values as a knock-off effect of another objective, such as socio-economic viability of HNV farms. Innovation is a relative notion, and context dependent: an innovation in one country might be an already established approach in another country.

We know that HNV farming systems are declining, sometimes quite rapidly, all throughout Europe. We know that we need to find solutions. This is where innovation comes in. Capacity for innovation is part of the overall resilience of HNV farming systems because HNV farming has to be able to adapt to changing challenges and contexts.

‘For practically all the HNV innovation gaps that we identified, examples of relevant solutions exist in other locations’ – Guy Beaufoy, leader of HNV-Link's innovation work package.

Guy Beaufoy explains: ‘In the 10 Learning Areas, we’ve had a team of people working with farmers, environmentalists, with local authorities, and other experts to find out what are the innovations that are helping to save HNV farmland.’

Watch Guy’s 2 minute overview on innovation:

The HNV-Link innovation themes

The project worked along four themes of innovation identified by the the EIP-AGRI Focus Group on HNV Farming Profitability.

These are often mutually supporting, and many examples of HNV innovation include aspects under multiple themes. The below diagram was used in the innovation examples from the Learning Areas to illustrate the relative balance of themes in each case.

43 innovation examples described

The Innovation Compendium presents an overview of findings from the 10 Learning Areas and the main lessons learned, followed by the individual reports from the Learning Areas, including a set of innovation examples using a common format. For each Learning Area, the team looked at the local context for innovation in support of HNV farming, and analysed examples of innovation that are working (or have worked) within the Learning Area and more widely. The team also identify the main innovation gaps that need to be addressed in order to make HNV farming sustainable.

In all, the project team identified 63 innovation examples of relevance to HNV farming in the Learning Areas and 80 examples beyond the Learning Areas. Of these, 43 innovations from the Learning Areas are described in detail in the Innovation Compendium.

Key lessons from the Innovation Compendium

The Innovation Compendium is an important step in disseminating innovation for HNV farming systems because it brings together the results of the work done in the 10 Learning Areas and analyses innovation from the perspective of HNV farming. It provides inspiration and tools for addressing challenges and for peer-to-peer learning for HNV farming.

The key lessons from the learning areas are:

  • Many innovative solutions are possible for HNV farming, and they are happening in certain areas.
  • Nowhere is innovation happening on a sufficient scale to respond to the range of challenges facing HNV farming.
  • For practically all the gaps that the teams identified, examples of relevant solutions exist in other locations.
  • Spreading existing innovative approaches more widely is a key challenge requiring that social, institutional and regulatory conditions be made favourable for innovation.
  • Institutional understanding of HNV farming’s particular challenges, as well as regulatory adaptability are necessary for spreading of innovations to occur.
  • Informed and motivated “animateurs” working locally with HNV farmers are necessary in order to create and sustain an effective HNV innovation process. This, requires continuity of institutional cooperation and support and a continuity of personnel over several years.

Explore the Compendium of Innovation Experiences, Needs and Lessons. HNV-LINK Deliverable 2.6.1.

Zoom-in on the individual Learning Areas and their innovation materials on the Learning Areas pages

Promoting innovations & HNV farmland

From the mid-term report to the Horizon2020 office: the team's combined outreach efforts of events at local and international levels, media pieces etc. have resulted in 252 items with an estimated minimum outreach of 17 300 users. Most of this is due to the grassroots level activities within our Learning Areas. This is a fantastic output considering the project is only at the halfway mark!

HNV-Link's #Innovation social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook highlights examples of innovations identified in compilation of the The Innovation Compendium. Look for hashtags #HNV and #Innovation!

News from the Learning Areas

Some highlights from HNV-Link partners since the last newsletter:


Fantastic initiative from HNv-Link partner in Croatia: the national park of Mljet will allocate funding to support farmers who implement nature-friendly practices on this island of exceptional beauty and natural richness. National Park Mljet is one of the stakeholders in HNV-Link and plans to strengthen island farming in ways that maintain its agro-biodiversity and contribute to sustainable development in its protected natural areas. The initiative is all more important because, so far, there has been little awareness of or attention to local multifunctional farming systems that are respectful of unique island resources.


HNV-Link in Spain will once again take part in a major event – workshop ‘Grazed Lands’. Its motto this year is ‘innovation and participation’, which is very much aligned with HNV-Link goals. The workshop targets local stakeholders, farmers, and policymakers and will take place in Plasencia (Cáceres, Spain) during 18 - 19 April. Everyone interested AND fluent in Spanish is welcome! The event itself and its major publication are good examples to adapt elsewhere. Request more information here

The UK

In early 2018 the coordinator for Dartmoor Learning Area, Gwyn Jones, organised a conference on results-based payments in Torfaen, Wales. The programme featured speakers from the Dartmoor and Burren Learning Areas. Other contributors were from other areas in the UK, including the DG Env-funded results-based pilot in the Yorkshire Dales, and from Ireland, including the hen harrier EIP project. With the logistical elements of the conference itself financed by a cooperation between 3 local LEADER action groups, the conference was a good example of HNV-Link leveraging other funding. Conference participants, who were a real mix of farmers, NGO and government, welcomed the opportunity to hear in detail for the first time about this innovative approach to agri-environment support. The event was the subject of the weekly agriculture programme on Radio Cymru.

More: Dartmoor Farming Futures (DFF)


In Ireland, 50% of the new EIP-AGRI projects are on HNV farmland! This highlights a considerable innovation potential of such areas. HNV-Link's Irish coordinator Dr James Moran also has a guest post on the EIP-AGRI process in Ireland. He also shared unique knowledge of the application process for an EIP in agriculture. His presentation is available. National EIP-AGRI groups are certainly possibilities to try for issues of conservation on farmland.

High Nature Value Farming in education

The team continues work on educational materials on HNV farmland.

Drafts are available for:

  • 3 sets of lecture slides with notes: General overview of HNV farmland concept, HNV farming systems across Europe and Role of innovation in HNV farmlands
  • Thematic literature package;
  • Class and field assignments (currently 12).

Here is an example of one of the assignments.

The drafts are available for commenting and inputs from anyone interested - contact us or . The final materials will carry the authorship attributions and will be available as an open source resource in 2019. It is a chance for anyone to make results of their own educational output useful and inspirational for others in field. Your lecture or presentation slides can become part of the package as they are!

Other projects to follow

EU and regional projects of relevance to HNV farming

HNV-Link partners contribute to other Horizon2020 projects through steering groups, cases, and more.​ Here are links to valuable projects that have already delivered and those that are about to start:

CAPSELLA and their outputs
'Your innovation lab for agrobiodiversity'. Capsella developed innovative ICT solutions tailored to the needs of all food, field, and seed related actors engaging in agrobiodiversity. Capsella has prototyped new open data based products which enhance the processes and viability of agrobiodiversity. Among the key outputs are such open innovation tools, also applicable in HNV farming context, as: Soil Health Pilot, Food Product Data Analytics, Storytelling on (Food) Production, Personalised Public Food Service, Personalized Food Systems: The ‘Meal Prediction Tool’. The final project event will be organised within the Food Week in Milan on the 8 of May 2018 in conjunction with the Italian Observatory of Agrobiodiversity.

The SIMRA project involves 26 organisations across Europe and the Mediterranean. The project has created an online catalogue​ that showcases 50 examples of social innovation in the fields of agriculture, forestry, and rural development. Some of these are, not surprisingly, the same as in HNV-Link. If you are aware of a project or initiative that you think is a good example of social innovation and should be included in the SIMRA catalogue, you can submit it by completing this form.

New project: PROVIDE
The objective of the PROVIDE project is to develop a conceptual basis, evidence, tools, and improved incentive and policy options to support the ‘smart’ provision of public goods by the EU agriculture and forestry ecosystems. PROVIDE will mobilise 14 partners from 13 different countries in the EU.

The QuESSA project, completed in 2017, aimed to quantify the key semi-natural habitats (SNH) providing essential ecosystem services (ES) across economically important cropping systems, farming intensities and four European agro-climatic zones.

Many opportunities to get involved

  • Inform us of an existing innovation example in your HNV farming area
  • Inform us of a need for a specific innovation in your HNV farming area
  • Download our outputs
  • Contribute to the education materials
  • Follow us on social media and comment on the posts: Twitter, Facebook
  • Subscribe to the newsletter here

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