Reconciling agriculture and nature conservation across scales: challenges and opportunities for future social-ecological sustainability of high nature value farmlands

Ângela Lomba, CIBIO-InBIO (The Research Network in Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology),

David I. McCracken, Hill & Mountain Research Centre, Scotland’s Rural College,

Teresa Pinto Correia, CAAM (Instituto Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas) – Universidade de Évora,


Agriculture is among the major drivers of change in the Anthropocene. Designing and supporting sustainable farming practices, by combining the efficient use of production factors whilst preserving the natural capital, is thus a pressing challenge. This symposium focusses on the pivotal role of High Nature Value farmlands (HNVf), for reconciling agriculture and nature conservation in the EU countryside. Main challenges and key opportunities will be highlighted and discussed in the context of environment and rural development policies towards future social-ecological sustainability of HNV farmlands.


Agriculture is a major driver of environmental change in the Anthropocene. Covering ca. 40 % of the terrestrial area, agricultural landscapes are known as essential habitats for several species, and as providers of essential ecosystem services. Increasing demand for agricultural expansion and intensification has led to relevant losses of global natural capital, and the need to reconcile agriculture production and nature conservation has been highlighted. Designing and supporting farming practices that respect the integrity of natural resources, combining the efficient use of production factors whilst preserving the natural capital, is thus a pressing challenge.

Recently, ongoing research has been focussing the potential of HNV farmlands as providers of multiple goods and ecosystem services, beyond biodiversity, and specifically investing in the development of methodological approaches that can assess their intrinsic nature value in space and time. Supporting the social-ecological and economic sustainability of High Nature Value farmlands in the future have also been targeted in scientific and political arenas. Tools and guidelines for innovating HNV farmlands are also being discussed and scrutinized. This symposium will jointly deliver results from ongoing projects, such as FARSYD – FARming SYstems as tool to support policies for effective conservation and management of high nature value farmlanDs (FARSYD-2011–2016—POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016664|PTDC/AAG-EC/5007/2014). Goals and results from such projects will be presented and discussed within this symposium, and a discussion regarding perspectives to address main challenges regarding HNV farmlands future viability will also be tackled.

Overall, this symposium focusses on the pivotal role of High Nature Value farmlands (HNVf), for reconciling agriculture and nature conservation in the EU countryside. Specifically, this symposium aims to tackle:

  • HNV farming systems as complex social-ecological systems, which intertwined relationships result on nature and /or conservation value?
  • Methodological approaches under development and testing for HNV farmlands mapping and monitoring;
  • Links between High Nature Value (HNV) farming systems and biodiversity across scales;
  • Relation between multifunctional HNV farmlands and their potential for the provision of multiple ecosystem services and goods, focussing specifically on approaches and tools to quantify such potential;
  • Challenges and opportunities for High Nature Value farmlands maintenance in the future, specifically targeting paths for social-ecological sustainability, including innovation and multifunctionality;

Finally, this symposium will include a short workshop, in which the focus will be main challenges and key opportunities for increasing and promoting High Nature Value farmlands competitiveness and sustainability in the context of environment and rural development policies. 

What can participants expect to learn?

This symposium will tackle the complex relationships between farming systems and biodiversity and ecosystem services, specifically focusing on High Nature value farmlands. Participants will learn about state-of-the-art approaches targeting HNVf being developed and tested across different scales in the EU. Also, the complexity of the social-ecological systems underlying HNVf will be tackled, specifically the role of farmers in shaping such farmlands in space and time, and at different scales. Further, perspectives for maintenance of such farmlands in the future will also be scrutinized.


Outcomes of the symposium will be communicated as follow:


Oral presentations
Assessing the social-ecological resilience of High Nature Value farmlands in space and time: challenges and perspectives
Angela Lomba1,2, David I. McCracken2, Francisco...
The application of the High Nature Value concept in Estonia in the production of a new map of farmland as a basis for national policy formulation.
T. Kikas 1, A.Kull 1, R.G.H.Bunce 2 & K.Sepp...
Does Finnish High Nature Value farmland indicator correspond to the farmland bird and butterfly diversity?
Mäkeläinen, Sanna (1), Harlio, Annika (2),...
Linking population trends of farmland birds to changes in agricultural land use and farming systems
Sebastian Klimek (a), Jens Dauber (a), Michael W...
High Nature Value farmlands of rural Norway – the effect of the surrounding landscapes on the biodiversity within hay meadows of high ecological value
Sølvi Wehn, Sigrun Aune, Knut Anders Hovstad,...
Accommodating the ecosystem service concept for enhancing grassland viability in the Baltic States: the LIFE Viva Grass approach
Anda Ruskule1, Zymantas Morkvenas2, Justas...
The devil is in the detail: where does climate change stands on the conservation of High Nature Value farmlands biodiversity?
Buchadas, A. 1, Moreira, F. 1,2, Honrado, J. 1...
Innovating for High Nature Value agrarian systems: outlook on the first steps of ten grassroots social processes - Findings from HNV-Link H2020 project
Xavier POUX (AScA), Guy BEAUFOY (EFNCP), François...
Results-based agri-environmental payment schemes (RBAPS) and their role in future sustainability of HNV farmland
Byrne, D.1, Alzaga, V.3, Astrain, C.3, Beaufoy, G...
The Regionalwert AG: Creating sustainable regional structures and high nature value farmland through citizen participation
Roman Lenz, Christian Hiss, Peter Volz DIE...
Farmer’s representations affecting the management of Montado as HNV: tensions created by public policies
Teresa Pinto-Correia and Carla Azeda ICAAM –...
Extractivist landscapes: investigating how the NTFP Açaí (Euterpe precatoria Mart) became an important part of socio-ecological development strategy of family forests in Acre, Brazil
Lopes, E1. Soares Filho, B1., Souza F2., Carvalho...
Biomass Production in the Brazilian Savanna: a comparative study between traditional farming and large monoculture system
Ana Pimenta Ribeiro, Leibniz University Hannover
Poster presentations
Biodiversity conservation, cultural heritage, and adaptive governance in the context of modern agriculture: The case of traditional rural biotopes in Finland.
Kaisa J. Raatikainen, University of Jyväskylä,...