The “High Nature Value Environments” are "un-protected" areas in which the resources and processes in nature combine to supply us with life-supporting benefits. In these areas we are witnessing an increasing number of small farming systems. Our concern is with the legacy that such human presence will leave for future generations. This project created and tested a “High Nature Value Index” (HNVI) to assess the impact of hillside farming on ecological stability in the Northern Range. The HNVI played a vital role in finding common ground between the need of rural communities to increase agricultural productivity and farm-incomes and the desire to reduce negative environmental impact. It contributes to Food Security by providing:
a) A basis for negotiated agreements among Stakeholders on environmental conservation;
b) An indexation process that reflects acceptable codes of conduct and transparency in farming practices;
c) A supporting benchmark to leverage technical and financial assistance;
d) A methodology for addressing the challenges of Entitlements and Responsibilities;
d) Technical support for internal and external audits of compliance with legal environmental regulations;
d) Capacity building within civil society and the private sector to implement verification systems for hillside farming.
Our current challenge is to make the HNVI into an application tool available to a wider spectrum of stakeholders and contributing to broadening the base of responsible actors in this environment. We are hoping to use our workshop to share experiences in three complimentary areas:
1) Strategies for broadening the base of responsible actors in high nature value environments;
2) Addressing issues of inequality in social and economic opportunities; and
3) Sharing experiences in establishing an efficient supporting infrastructure to help inform policy decisions, identify risk factors and provide evidence-based adaptations to environmental changes.