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AONB Funds High Nature Value Farmland Project

( Last Updated: 19-03-2010 )

The Blackdown Hills AONB has welcomed the opportunity to become involved in a case study that aims to identify High Nature Value (HNV) farmland in Devon.

Many wildlife species, such as bats, hares, barn owls, skylarks and some butterflies, are totally dependant on the mosaic of habitats provided by certain farming systems.  Some areas of farmland have been designated as County Wildlife Sites, which gives them recognition as being locally important, while others have been given national, statutory protection as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.  However, these areas are few and far between and do not address wildlife conservation issues across the wider countryside.  

The European Forum for Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, which has been awarded LIFE funding from the EU, aims to help member states identify areas of HNV farmland.  The Devon case study has received additional funding from Devon County Council, Devon Wildlife Trust and the Blackdown Hills and South Devon AONBs, and has support from Natural England and the RSPB. 

Focussing on the two AONBs and the Culm grassland area of north Devon, the project has three aims:
1. To explore how to identify HNV farmland using agricultural data, wildlife data and landscape character work;
2. to obtain an understanding of the farming systems and socio-economics that support HNV farmland;
3. to recommend policy changes that will ensure support for these farming systems post 2013 CAP reforms.

The results of the study will be important not only for wildlife conservation, but also for the rural economy via future agri-environment schemes.

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