The economic value of high nature value farming and the importance of the Common Agricultural Policy in sustaining income: the case study of the Natura 2000 Zarandul de Est (Romania)

Simone Martino, Dominic Muenzel

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    This study assesses the economic value of land use changes in the Zarandul de Est (Romania) Natura 2000 site, applying the ecosystem services approach proposed by the TESSA toolkit. The aim is to provide support to decision-making in the context of high nature value farming, debating the contribution of public subsidies and agri-environmental schemes to farmers' income. Local and global agroforestry ecosystem services are compared under two different land use scenarios: 1) land abandonment followed by natural afforestation; 2) sustainable cattle grazing in semi-natural grasslands. The scenario analysis shows that an improved use of pasture land determines a relevant increase in net economic value. However, direct and rural agro-environmental payments applied to high value nature farming are necessary to provide viable financial support to farmers and achieve the economic impacts described by the ecosystem services approach. Under the 2007–2013 rules, Common Agricultural Policy payments show to be equal to 130% of the household income and able to cover the full cost of the average farm in Zarand, a figure similar to other European marginalised areas. This result suggests that public support, in the absence of a full implementation of payment for ecosystem services schemes, is necessary to limit socio-economic deprivation of European marginalised farming systems. However, without reaching smallholders (farmers holding <1ha) and commoners (farmers using common grassland) who are both currently excluded, the current state agricultural payments shows limited impacts in sustaining the resiliency of the Zarand socio-ecological system. As alternatives to CAP payments, income diversification strategies (e.g. ecotourism, incentives to re-wilding) are proposed as well as the required conditions under which they can be applied, and in what terms these strategies can sustain the strict requirements of halting biodiversity loss in Natura 2000 sites.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)176-187
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Rural Studies
    Early online date13 Apr 2018
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Apr 2018



    • Farm economics
    • CAP Payments
    • Ecosystem services
    • High nature value farming
    • Economic value

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