Low-intensity agriculture is important for the conservation of many European habitats and species. However, biodiverse farmlands—also referred to as high nature value (HNV) farmlands—are threatened by years of agricultural intensification and land abandonment. Considering the ongoing changes in land-cover—evident throughout Europe—it is important to assess how land transformation is affecting HNV farmlands. Here, we evaluate land-cover changes within HNV farmlands during 2006–2018. We find that HNV farmlands inside Natura 2000 sites are less likely than those outside to be converted to artificial surfaces and more likely to maintain mosaic farming. However, land transformation patterns vary between member states, suggesting that different processes are driving the land-cover changes within each state. We recommend that member states support HNV farmers by making a more effective use of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and that the EU prioritizes the protection of HNV farmlands during its next CAP reform post-2020.
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We are thankful to the researchers who have developed the datasets used in this study and to the European Commission for making the datasets available online. We are also thankful to three anonymous reviewers for their thorough assessments and constructive feedback. Emily would like to thank the Freeman Foundation in the US for their financial support during her stay at Guangxi University, China.
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Anderson, E., Mammides, C. Changes in land-cover within high nature value farmlands inside and outside Natura 2000 sites in Europe: A preliminary assessment. Ambio 49, 1958–1971 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01330-y
- Biodiverse farmlands
- Common Agricultural Policy
- European Union
- Landscape change
- Low-intensity agriculture
- Natura 2000