Reconciling nature conservation and traditional farming practices: a spatially explicit framework to assess the extent of High Nature Value farmlands in the European countryside
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1 Agriculture constitutes a dominant land cover worldwide, and rural landscapes under extensive farming practices acknowledged due to high biodiversity levels. The High Nature Value farmland (HNVf) concept has been highlighted in the EU environmental and rural policies due to their inherent potential to help characterize and direct financial support to European landscapes where high nature and/or conservation value is dependent on the continuation of specific low-intensity farming systems. 2 Assessing the extent of HNV farmland by necessity relies on the availability of both ecological and farming systems’ data, and difficulties associated with making such assessments have been widely described across Europe. A spatially explicit framework of data collection, building out from local administrative units, has recently been suggested as a means of addressing such difficulties. 3 This manuscript tests the relevance of the proposed approach, describes the spatially explicit framework in a case study area in northern Portugal, and discusses the potential of the approach to help better inform the implementation of conservation and rural development policies. 4 Synthesis and applications: The potential of a novel approach (combining land use/cover, farming and environmental data) to provide more accurate and efficient mapping and monitoring of HNV farmlands is tested at the local level in northern Portugal. The approach is considered to constitute a step forward toward a more precise targeting of landscapes for agri-environment schemes, as it allowed a more accurate discrimination of areas within the case study landscape that have a higher value for nature conservation.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Ecology and Evolution
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.