Newsletter 2018

News 2018

The HNV-Link project will hold its final conference on 31 January 2019 at CIHEAM-IAMM in Montpellier. We will highlight the environmental, social and economic relevance of HNV farming, share our findings from local experiences, and discuss the role of innovation in supporting this vital form of agriculture.

HNV-Link Final Conference
Innovation to sustain High Nature Value farming: Who needs to do what?

Thursday 31 January 2019
CIHEAM-IAMM, 3191 Route de Mende, 34093 Montpellier, France

HNV-Link Final Conference Programme

Practical information for attendees

Participation is free of charge, but registration is requested (please register before 31 December 2018 using the link below, and, if changes, update us on your participation status by email)



  • The major project output - the interactive map - is now online! It showcases the innovation potential of HNV farmland areas and illustrates how the innovation needs of one area can often be met by innovations found within the same area and those from other HNV regions.

  • HNV-Link has completed a unique deliverable – its educational materials about HNV farming and farmlands. The Educational package is envisioned to encourage educators in vocational and university levels to work more with this multifaceted topic. Advisors or farmers and farmer groups may also find them useful for exploring the farmed environment. Several of the assignments can be implemented in any farmland or farming system. Educators can use the materials as-is or adapt them. The ready-to-use slides may be used in people’s own presentations. The materials are Open Source under CC BY-NC-SA.

  • The Irish team produced an excellent video​. It explains the concept of High Nature Value farming with the Burren in Ireland as example, role of farmers in sustaining biodiversity, innovations developed to support farmers, HNV-Link project activities across Europe and the vision for future – all in 8:38 minutes!

  • The innovative approach of The Burren - Farming in Conservation Award - has became a national programme! The “Farming for Nature award” is supported by a variety of partner organisations and volunteers. The main aim of the awards programme is to share the stories of farmers who are undertaking positive action for nature on their farms. It is hoped that highlighting these positive stories will inspire others to follow. Videos of the shortlisted candidates are here [INSERT hyperlink]. The results will be presented at the Burren Winterage School


  • HNV-Link and Learning Area Sítio de Monfurado have received Portuguese language media coverage! The September issue of Vida Rural, an agricultural magazine with a wide national circulation, published an article on HNV-Link and the Portuguese Learning Area of Sítio de Monfurado. The article also describes the team's cross-visit to The Burren, Ireland.

    Portugal Montado HNV link . Vida Rural. Setembro 2018

  • Mugurel Jitea, of the Romanian Eastern Hills of Cluj Learning Area, presented on High Nature Value Farming in the Carpathians at the 4th Meeting of the Working Group on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development at Vatra Dornei, Romania. Mugur presented HNV-Link’s results on trends, innovations and needs, with highlights from HNV-Link’s Baseline Assessments, Atlas, and Innovation Compendium. See outputs. (27 September 2018).

    Presentation Romania High Nature Value Farming in the Carpathians

  • HNV-Link funding enabled six farmers from Dartmoor and one farmer from Dorset visited Cholderton Estate in Wiltshire, UK. The purpose of the visit was to learn about the more drought resistant forage system that the estate owner and manager, Henry Edmunds, uses. This was particularly relevant following the dry summer that saw the grassland of the Dartmoor dry out. The farmers learned about the arable rotation and saw for themselves the rich abundance of flora and fauna on this nearly self-sufficient organic farm with dairy cattle, sheep and horse production. (26 September 2018)

    Report on the visit

  • The Heritage Council and the Irish Uplands Forum provide support to assist upland communities to carry out sustainable development projects in their local area. The work is informed by an uplands partnership management board of which James Moran (HNV Link LA coordinator Ireland) is a member. Upland areas in Ireland are dominated by HNV farmland with approximately 50% of the total area of HNV located within upland areas. Mary Mulvey, Upland Network Coordinator, reports that The Upland Study Grant Scheme (September 2018), funded by The Heritage Council in Ireland, was fortunate to benefit from resources and methodology developed by HNV-Link and that “ from trip design to reporting, the design of our Scheme was greatly enhanced by shared experiences.”

  • The Croatian team has held several regional meetings on Croatian islands during May, June, September to bring focus to the HNVf in the islands and its specificities. First meeting was held on the island of Brač in May. It was organised as a stand-alone workshop within the fourth edition of an international conference on rural tourism, which attracted about 250 participants from 15 countries. Some 18 participants attended the workshop among them HNV farmers, AKIS actors (e.g. representatives of universities. EU MP’s), small food producers, representatives of LAGs and NGOs. Two Croatian members of HNVF-Link Advisory Board (Mrs. Sonja Karoglan Todorović and Mr. Filip Bubalo) also participated in the workshop. Mrs. Sonja Karoglan Todorović was moderating the workshop. Additional workshops were held on the islands of Korčula, Hvar and Lastovo in May, June and September to foster the creation of a national HNVf islander network. Read more


  • Over 30 people – farmers, professional associations, advisors, local and regional authorities – attended a regional meeting in Florac, France to discuss the key findings from the HNV-Link Baseline Assessment for Causses and Cevennes, work on innovations in the area and share local and European initiatives, experiences and success stories. They also identified collective actions to address the priorities for this Learning Area. Read more (26 July 2018).

  • Media release and launch of Campo Grande Group agreements to reduce livestock-wolf conflict. HNV-Link partner Entretantos supported the process of Campo Grande Group for a series of agreements to promote coexistence of Iberian wolf and extensive livestock farming. The Declaration is a document of agreements reached after a long process of debate and collaborative building. Indeed, a main outcome of the work is the quality of the participatory process leading up to the agreements. The agreement itself is an invaluable example for the process to resolve a highly contested issue of conservation of a protected species that happens to impact negatively local livelihoods. (25 July 2018).


  • The project has its own YouTube channel. There are currently three playlists:

    1. About HNV-Link project,
    2. Assessing the current situation in the activity areas of HNV-Link project and
    3. Cross-visits

    Welcome to any of these! (July 2018)

  • The cross-visits season of the project keeps the team busy. All the reports and highlights are being made available at Cross-visits. For ongoing information, check on our Facebook and Twitter posts - trace by #HNVnetwork, as well YouTube channel of HNV-Link for video testimonies.

    • 1 – 4 October 2018: A diverse team that included representatives of Croatian agricultural advisory services (AKIS), national beekeepers association, farmers and three Local Action Groups (LAG) had a very fruitful cross-visit to Tarnava Mare region in Romania. Everyone gained new knowledge relevant to own field. Frano Mihlinić from AKIS got new from ideas for agri-environment measures for the Dalmatian Islands and will write a report for the national AKIS. Vlaho Komparak from the beekeepers association saw new possibilities for developing his own agribusiness based HNV farming. The LAG representatives met colleagues from other LAGs and experts from the ADEPT foundation, from whom they learned of new ways to inspire producer organisations in Croatia for developing local value chains.
    • 3 – 5 October, 2018: Two LA teams - seven participants from Extremadura and three from Thessaly - had a very successful cross-visit to France in the first week of October. The main theme was supporting pastoral activity. The visiting teams spent 3 days meeting pastoralists and people from the many different organisations involved in supporting pastoral activity in the area. The programme included visits to and with: 5 HNV farms, an abattoir run by farmers, small-scale on-farm cheese producers, agritourism, and a food processing and training centre for farmers. The team reports learning about a huge range of initiatives, projects and funding that are linked together and share the common goal of maintaining semi-natural mosaic landscapes through pastoral farming.
    • 14 - 17 May 2018: The project Greek team visited Sweden on an innovation exchange trip. The team was particularly impressed with a multi-actor facilitation approach to restoration of semi-natural grasslands in Sweden, but also many more individual innovations. But it also contributed back with its unique use of 3D mapping as a tool for multi-actor planning. Further collaboration plans are being made.
    • 4 - 7 June 2018: A Portuguese team of 20 - farmers, researchers and public administration people - visited The Burren in Ireland. They got acquainted with experiences of co-construction and implementation of a famous result-based agri-environment scheme. The trip included visits to farms participating in the scheme and a workshop focused on the needs of the Portuguese Montado system for a similar payment approach.
    • 6 - 10 June 2018: The UK and Bulgaria cross-visited Sweden and the feedback on both sides was overwhelmingly positive. Innovations shared ranged from a self-closing gate to community supported agriculture (CSA) to an impressive multi-actor facilitation approach. Check YouTube channel of HNV-Link for video testimonies!
    • 13 - 15 June 2018: A team of various farmland actors from Bulgaria's Western Stara Planina visited Thessaly region in Greece. The team received warm welcome from the mayor of Mouzaki and got acquainted the participatory approaches and high-tech innovations in the area.
    • 25 - 27 June 2018: The cross-visit of Bulgarian team to Romania brought together 24 farmers, veterinarians, researchers, advisors, representatives from NGOs, Local Action Group, food industry, local authorities and cultural organisations - all key players in rural development. The main host was Adept Foundation with input from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Cluj-Napoca. Some first reflections from both sides are on YouTube channel of HNV-Link.
    • 4 - 7 July 2018: The reciprocal cross-visit of Romanian team to Western Stara Planina region of Bulgaria. A group of stakeholders from Dealurile Clujului Est (farmers, NGOs, researchers, advisory etc) was discovering HNV innovations for the future development of their region. Among these were HNV pasture management, food processing units, marketing of HNV products, and cooperation and association arrangements.
    • On 14 July 2018, the project Learning Area in Dartmoor, The UK, welcomed Welsh and Irish colleagues. Maurice Retallick introduced Haytor common, which is piloting the Dartmoor Farming Futures innovation. The visitors were all dealing with common land issues in their home areas. The Dartmoor commoners impressed the visitors with their confident and insightful introductions to their commons, the problems they face and the different way they've addressed them. Funding for the visit came from the Heritage Lottery Fund through the City and County of Swansea and from the Heritage Council through EFNCP.

    (14 July 2018)


  • During April and May, HNV-Link’s Swedish partners presented the HNV farming vision for the Learning Area and information about HNV-Link to the municipal executive boards on each of the five municipalities of Dalsland. (30 May 2018).

  • During the second week of April, the University of Evora team from Portugal held a workshop for the project Divercrop - This research project aims to highlight the interactions between current dynamics of Mediterranean agricultural practices, species diversity and local food systems at multiple spatial scales. The team used the experiences of HNV-Link work in the LA of Sítio do Monfurado. The workshop brought together different actors - public administration, research institutions, producers' associations, and non-governmental organizations - in a quest to answer, 'Which farming activities could exist in Sitio de Monfurado for the preservation of biodiversity and food security?' The workshop used the 'Territory Game' approach, which specifically develops a diagnosis of the present situation of the territory, constructs an ideal vision for the future and draws strategies to attain that vision in a participatory environment with the different actors as players of the game. (29 May 2018)

    Jogo do território - Relatório (in Portuguese)

  • During 13-17 May, the Greek project team - a researcher and a farmer - visited Sweden as part of the innovation cross-visit programme of the project. The area in focus is Dalsland. Here, an innovative holistic planning for managing uniquely rich farmlands - facilitation of collaborative land use management - has been developed and tested (for more details, see the innovation report of the area at the link above). The Greek team visited a farm with free-range goats and one with cattle grazing semi-natural grasslands, met with owners of an agro-tourism farm, and interviewed a farmer who had used the mobile abattoir. The discoveries include practical ideas for optimising animal feeding and milking, as well as inspirational examples on marketing products and organising rural tourism around the high nature values of an area. Both areas also exchanged experiences in public participation approaches. Visit HNV-Link_LA Thessaly FB community to follow the day-by-day photo-account of the visit to the northern corner of Europe as seen through Hellenic eyes! (29 May 2018)

  • A key regional workshop of the HNV-Link project was held on Brač - an island in the Adriatic, where the ways farmers tend the land affects not only the land's quality, fertility and biodiversity, but also the surrounding sea waters. Various actors from the LA of Dalmatian Islands met on 11 May to discuss the relevance of high nature value farmland and plan future actions, including building a local EIP (European Innovation Partnership) group around the mosaic islander landscapes. The meeting was held in connection with the Congress on Rural Tourism to create synergy with the tourism on the island economy. (29 May 2018)


  • HNV-Link received coverage through an interview Isabel Ferraz de Oliveira gave on HNV-Link that was published in April in the Portuguese language National Rural Network magazine (page 42 and 43). (30 April 2018).

  • Thibaut Rodriguez from CEN-LR ( presented the HNV-Link project at the Forum on Alternative Agricultural Practices. About 50 people attended the event organised by the regional nature park of Alpilles (funded through a LIFE+ project). CEN-LR implements diverse projects in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Causses and Cevennes national park - a remarkable HNV farmland region. More information from (26 April 2018)

    Presentation of Thibaut Rodriguez

  • The long-awaited funding for renovation of the terraces and stone walls has been made available from April 2018 for the Dalmatian Islands of Croatia - HNV-Link Learning Area. Both elements are known to be important for biodiversity, and both have cultural values. The measure will be funded from the Rural Development Programme as non-productive investments. The HNV-Link partner Local action group LAG 5 had been active in securing this measure and will promote its implementation.

    Among the important conditions:

    • the investment in the construction of terraces or stone walls is carried out in an area where they are traditionally present, and
    • the terrace is arranged for the purpose of its agricultural cultivation.

    More information (in Croatian): (26 April 2018)

  • Cross-visits season is open! It is a busy and exciting period for HNV-Link: the learning area teams will be visiting each other during spring-summer of 2018. The objective is to learn about specific innovations to support HNV farming and farmers so that these can be adapted and implemented in new areas. As HNV-Link has discovered so far, there is no shortage of innovative solutions to challenges but knowledge about what works and how it works does not travel well. Encouragement for daring to innovate is also crucial!

    The first visit took place on 18-19 April 2018, when the Portuguese Team - farmers from the Sitio de Monfurado and researchers from the university of Évora - visited the learning area of La Vera in Spain. They explored a social innovation of collaboration among many rural actors and attended the Territorios Pastoreados 3 Innovation and Participation - a major networking event on pastoralism and HNV livestock farming in Spain. (26 April 2018)

  • Regional meetings in all Learning Areas are events of particular importance: this is where the results of the innovation work across the whole project are presented to the key actors in the 10 project regions. Which of these many innovations will spark interest and serve as inspiration?

    The first of the meetings - a conference on "The Future of High Nature Value farming in Romania" - took place on the 22nd of April 2018 in Romania. The meeting was made part of (is this phrasing correct?) the AGRARIA Fair - the biggest agrifood fair in the country. The conference was opened by the prefect of Cluj County, Aurel Cherecheş. Among the invited speakers were representatives of the European Commission (EIP Agri), Romanian ministries (Agriculture and Rural Development; Forestry and Water), Local Action Group Somes, Transilvanian farmers, NGOs, consultants, researchers and students. Over 100 people attended the conference on HNV farming, and many more visitors of the AGRARIA Fair got to hear about the HNV farmland.

    Mugurel Jitea from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca, Romania, describes the significance of the meeting at the national television (starts at min 32) (26 April 2018):


  • A guest post on the EIP-AGRI process in Ireland by HNV Link's Irish coordinator Dr James Moran. The feedback from other attendees is that he was brilliant sharing unique knowledge in the application process for an EIP in agriculture. National EIP-AGRI groups is certainly a possibility to try for issues of conservation on farmland. EIP-AGRI BLOG
    The presentation is available: James Moran EIP-AGRI BLOG (18 Jan 2018)

  • Croatia. 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. (18 Jan 2018)

  • Spain. 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 (18 Jan 2018)

  • 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) (18 Jan 2018)

  • Ireland. 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. National EIP-AGRI groups are certainly possibilities to try for issues of conservation on farmland. (18 Jan 2018)