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The Conservation/Agriculture Relationship in the EU: High Nature Value Areas in Hungary

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Abstract: My PhD looks at the development and evolution of conservation programmes on agricultural land in the EU within the context of the rural development pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) using local-level case studies in Hungary. I focus specifically on the ‘High Nature Value’ (HNV) programme, whereby conservation subsidies are granted to farmers who volunteer to adopt more environmentally-friendly farming measures. In this talk, I would like to outline and explore several findings and patterns that emerged from my research and what this has meant for how conservation is defined and operationalised in Hungary, as well as how farming is being restructured as a result of these discourses and processes. I argue that conservation is being subsumed under the agricultural sector, with its work shifting from monitoring and communication responsibilities to increasingly regimented forms, with particular emphasis on surveillance and infringement reporting. I will talk about how the implementation and design of subsidies has resulted in different outcomes for different-sized landholders, leading to land consolidation and possible negative environmental effects that are in contradiction to the original aims of the programme.

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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