Bosnia and Herzegovina - High Nature Value Farming
No steps for the identification and mapping of HNV farming have so far been taken in B&H. Nevertheless Type 1 HNV farmland would be expected to predominate. The county is characterised by very different soil and climate conditions, thus there are many different types of grassland. According to the literature and some recent inventories, they include: Phragmito-Magnocaricetea wet grasslands that can be found in Posavina, in karstic depressions and along rivers or lakes; Molinio Arrhenatheretea grasslands that are predominantly situated on lowlands with damp to wet soils and used as meadows or pastures; and Festuco-Brometea grasslands occupying more or less dry areas in hilly and mountain areas.
Most pastures are located above 1000 m; snow covers these areas for 4-5 months of the year, making permanent occupation by livestock impossible. They are available for grazing for about 3-4 summer months and so tend to be used semi-transhumantly by farmers who keep their flocks on the higher mountains and hillsides during the summer (May to September) and on the slopes of the valleys in the autumn (October and November). Before the recent war, a winter migration to feeding grounds in the lower northern regions was very common, especially from central Bosnia.
Meadows, located in the lowland and lower hilly areas (sometimes also on flat areas in mountains regions), are used mainly for grazing cattle and some sheep in the early spring (either using tethers or under the care of a herder) and then closed up for the hay harvest, which takes place in July. Neither meadows nor pastures are subject to any improvement, except that the animal dung concentrated in the sheep yards may be spread on the mown areas.
Type 2 HNV farmland, with a mosaic of low intensity, small arable plots, vegetable gardens, traditional orchards and vineyards, would also be expected to cover large areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most farms in B&H are small-scale family subsistence units characterised by a few animals and a high number of low volume crops, grown in a very extensive way. Traditional meadow orchards are very typical, producing plums in particular, which are processed into a variety of products such as plum brandy and jams, which are well-known outside B&H.
Given the fact that only some 20% of the agricultural land in B&H is suitable for intensive agriculture, type 3 HNV farmland, if it occurs, would be expected to cover only a very small proportion of the agricultural land.
One characteristic feature of HNV farmland in B&H is the karstic depressions (polje). The largest of them is Livanjsko polje (40,000 ha, possibly the largest in the world), where half of the area floods regularly. It is a valuable wetland (Ramsar) and an Important Bird Area, where marshes and peat bogs are combined with extensive grasslands. Arable fields fringe its southern edge, while on the surrounding karst terraces, which are exposed to the sun, grapes, fruits and vegetables are grown. In Livanjsko Polje, traditional agriculture, especially the keeping of cattle and sheep, has been compatible with maintaining the polje's variety of unique habitats. Extensive livestock grazing helped maintain natural grassland ecosystems and survival of populations of rare and endangered species such as corncrake (Crex crex), Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus), lesser spotted eagle (Aquila Pomarina) and great snipe (Gallinago media).
HNV Farming systems
Sheep breeding is an important and traditional activity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are some 1 million of sheep, mostly distributed in the hilly and mountainous regions. Sheep flocks are small, mostly of 20-50 ewes with only 3% flocks consisting of 50-100 ewes and 2% having 200 ewes or more. Almost 80% of the entire sheep population in B&H belongs to the Pramenka breed, which is kept for meat, milk and wool. There are other regional varieties, of which the most important and widespread is the Dubska breed, well-known also as Vlasicka, kept mostly in central Bosnia on the Vlasic mountain.
The predominant cattle breeds are Simmental (80%) with some Holstein-Friesian and Brown Swiss. The local Gatacko and Busa breeds are now but a small proportion of the total. Dairy farming is found mostly in lowland and hilly areas, where the cattle are either housed for most of the year, or out of doors only during the May-October growing season.
Southern Herzegovina is the most significant and only productive winegrowing region in B&H. The grape production is dominated by many small vineyards of 0.3-0.4 ha, with the autochthonous Zilavka (white) and Blatina (red) grape varieties. Intensive fruit and vegetable production has also developed in the same region, on the fertile polje and alluvial soils.
On the arable land, cereals take up the largest area, with maize being the most important; forage crops come second. With some 14 million trees, plums dominate the long list of permanent crops grown. The collection of medicinal and aromatic plants has also a very long tradition and it is estimated that some 100.000 people are involved in this activity.