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Landscapes of High Natural Value

The ADEPT Foundation operates mainly in the area of Târnava Mare, in the south-east of Transylvania, in Romania, in the triangle formed by the historical cities of Sibiu, Sighişoara and Braşov - see the map below.

85,000 ha of particularly rich landscape in the heart of the Sasese Villages area.This is one of the largest areas in the depression area of Europe, essentially unchanged for hundreds of years, where non-intensive agriculture coexists with an abundance of flora and fauna, including threatened species not only nationally but also internationally.

The area represents one of Europe's last medieval landscapes, and the meadows here are probably the most extensive flowering meadows left in Depression Europe virtually unchanged for hundreds of years, where moderate agriculture complements the abundance of flora and fauna. The meadows, hayfields, forests and arable land take us back to medieval times by their organization - with the wooded ridges and gullies, with the pastures and hayfields present on the terraces and gentle hills and with the arable land, spread mainly in the valleys, close to village settlements. Such landscapes have almost completely disappeared from the map of modern Europe.

What are agricultural lands with High Natural Value and what is their role in rural development?Agricultural Areas of High Natural Value (HNVF) are located in rural areas where traditional agriculture is the main economic activity and a key factor in nature conservation. They are characterized by the presence of natural and semi-natural vegetation (meadows), generally very species-rich and, in some cases, integrated into a large-scale continuous mosaic landscape that includes natural structural elements (such as field edges, stone walls, thickets of forest or scrub, small rivers) and thickets of arable land and orchards.The HNV agricultural area in Romania represents approximately 30% of the total usable agricultural area: 5 million ha, associated with smaller farm sizes in the hilly areas of the Carpathian arc.Traditional agricultural practices are responsible for maintaining much of Romania's (and Europe's) agricultural land, which provides a range of public benefits (goods and services), including valuable cultural landscapes, high-quality water and food, quality of life, recreational opportunities, flood control. These benefit society at large, not just the communities living in HNV areas. The HNV agricultural area is worthy of support for the economic and agricultural productivity that ensures the livelihood of several agricultural communities in Romania. Support for high-quality agricultural farms contributes to the prosperity of local communities by providing opportunities for market diversification, such as the development of rural tourism and enterprises based on quality and healthy products.What are the benefits of farmland with High Natural Value?Employment and rural vitality: small farming communities provide considerable and varied local employment. The four poorest areas in Romania are found precisely in the areas with the largest industrialized farms (Otiman, 2013).Food production: smaller farms in Romania produce twice as much per hectare as larger farms (measured as the difference between the value of agricultural production and the cost of inputs, Eurostat 2011). They play a significant role in providing food to communities and wider families.Food security for the future: HNV agriculture ensures sustainable land use, including healthy bee populations for pollination. HNV mosaic cultivated landscapes are more flexible in agricultural activities, more adaptable to climate change and environmental challenges.Diverse, nutritious and tasty food. A wealth of traditions and customs related to agriculture and gastronomy.Clean air and water and flood prevention: HNV mosaic landscapes reduce flooding and improve water quality by absorbing, filtering and slowly releasing/dispersing water.Healthy soils that store large amounts of carbon. Together with the low energy consumption of traditional agriculture and short food supply chains, these landscapes and systems reduce CO2 emissions and mitigate climate change.Healthy populations of natural predators for natural pest control.Agro-biodiversity: protecting traditional breeds of farm animals and plant varieties allows improving production under different conditions and ensuring resistance to climate change.Paradise for Europe's endangered wild plants and animals: meadows and semi-natural pastures and the patchwork landscape created by fragmented ownership and land management are very conducive to biodiversity.



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