Title: Validation and Improvement of High Nature Value Farmland Identification - National Approach in the Walloon Region in Belgium and in the Czech Republic
Publication Year: 2007
JRC N°: JRC37924
ISBN: 978-92-79-06426-5
Other Identifiers: EUR 22871 EN
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC37924
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: The concept of High Nature Value (HNV) farmland has been evolving over the last fifteen years in Europe. In the European Union this has been closely linked to the aim of integrating environmental concerns in the Common Agricultural Policy. The idea that nature values, environmental qualities, even cultural heritage are linked to or dependent on farming, also underlies and supports the concept of a multifunctional 'European model of farming which provides benefits beyond food production. The objective of this study is to better identify and characterise HNV farmland at national level (the Walloon Region in Belgium) with a Farm System Approach based on FSS statistical data and specific national surveys, taking into account the whole farm with the total agricultural area and its characteristics. The methodology is built on two different approaches: the natural zones approach and the farm system approach. The natural zones approach uses spatial data to define agricultural zones with a verified high biodiversity interest, based on a reference biodiversity layer for the Walloon Region (WR) called the principal ecological structure (SEP). The farm system approach analyses the farm structure and farming practices on the basis of data available in the WR agricultural database. In the first step relevant variables have been selected to calculate the HNV indicators for the farm system approach at NUTS 5 level: 1) crop diversity and grassland presence, 2) extensive practices, and 3) landscape elements. In the second step the three indicators were combined to calculate the HNV score. In the third step the areas delimited through the farm system approach were overlaid with a map resulting form the natural zones approach. In the last step HNV farmland was analysed with regard to prevailing trends in farming practices and production types with the aim of identification of farming systems which might be associated with HNV farmland occurrence in the WR in Belgium. The analysis of spatial distribution of HNV farmland delimited in the study shows that 91% of the HNV farm system zone identified in the study is located in Ardenne, Fagne and Fammenne. The dominant farming system types are grazing livestock system specialised in milk or meat production, depending on the region. The average livestock density is less than 2.0 LU/ha. Over 60% of UAA is used as permanent grassland. The strength of the Farm System Approach methodology is the possibility of producing a map at the NUTS 5 level with an accurate description of the farm systems. The methodology can be improved by crosschecking the results with regional experts and getting feedback on the thresholds and the weighting of the indicators. The weaknesses of the Farm System Approach methodology are mainly due to the way agricultural practices are modelled. The lack of comprehensive and reliable data on landscape elements and grassland management hampers further validation of HNV farmland identification results. A development of additional relevant surveys is therefore recommended. An attempt at assessing the applicability of the FSA for HNV farmland identification was undertaken for the Czech Republic. Statistical data on farming practices are still incomplete and insufficient to build the methodology similar to the Walloon Region FSA. Conversely, biodiversity and habitat data are abundant and of high quality and currently are the best datasets for HNV farmland identification in the Czech Republic.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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