High Nature Value Farming Now: How should decision makers address the needs of the High Nature Value Farming Systems – Lessons learnt from 14 years of support of High Nature Value Farming Systems in Bulgaria

The importance of High Nature Value (HNV) farming is grounded in its diverse and multifunctional character: forage land resource, habitat for flora and fauna species, host for a series of ecosystem services, cultural landscape, local traditions, and rural economies. It is in the focus of European policies for close to two decades – both agricultural and environmental.

The 14 years of support to the Bulgarian High Nature Value farmland seem to have brought them a disheartening policy fate. After the glorious start with specific national effort to identify the HNV farmland and to ensure they would be supported, the loss of half a million hectares of pastures and the conversion to arable land of other 230,000 ha does not seem encouraging. Nevertheless, there is still quite a significant territory of High Nature Value farmland that had sustained the pressure of abandonment and intensification of the last 14 years and that needs to be supported in a wise and considerate manner.

It is already clear that the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget for the next programme in 2023-2027 will be significantly reduced, so any support needs to be well targeted and closely monitored. Policy makers need to recognise that HNV farming has distinct aspects that need special attention, promotion and support.

In 2021, Society for Territorial and Environmental prosperity (STEP) was awarded a MAVA Learning & Sharing grant to (1) extract and formulate the lessons learnt about the CAP public support, the donor supported project schemes, as well as the accompanying socio-economic challenges for High Nature Value farming systems in Bulgaria, and (2) share them with CAP decision makers at national level and with MAVA partners from the Alliance for Mediterranean Nature and Culture.

The key lessons learnt are available here:

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