Montenegro - High Nature Value Farming
The Montenegrin landscape is only partly used for intensive agriculture due to its natural conditions and the specific development of agriculture in the past. Intensive farming is practiced only in vicinity of the capital Podgorica and close to urban area of Niksic (second largest city in the country).
In almost all regions of Montenegro the majority of the farming areas are used extensively, and can be regarded as HNV farmland. It is comprised mostly of semi-natural grasslands which are the main part of agricultural land.
A substantial area of the country is covered by semi-natural vegetation communities. For many of these, farming practices, especially the grazing and browsing of livestock, continue to be amongst the dominant factors in their maintenance. Montenegrin herbaceous pastures range from the Alpine grasslands of the highest mountains, through Mediterranean-montane Nardus grasslands1 to dry grasslands on the alluvial plains. The latter are now very restricted in area, found for example on Cemovsko polje, including Karabu?ko, Tu?ko and Dino?ko polje and the lower part of the canyon of the River Cijevna, but they are significant for stone curlew (Burrhinus oedicnemus) and tawny pipit (Anthus campestris). Some of the most extensive areas of mountain pastures are found in the Durmitor region. There are also some important areas of wet pastures and meadows between Plav and Gusinje.
Shrubby semi-natural habitats – such as maquis, garrigue and Bruckenthalia heaths – are also significant, and found mostly, though not exclusively, in the Mediterranean zone , frequently in mosaics with xeric grassland communities.
Traditional orchards are also common and dominate the permanent crop sector, especially in the continental zone. The significant majority of olive trees are managed in the traditional way. On north-facing slopes in the Rumija region, there are fine examples of pollarded chestnut (Castanea sativa) systems.
HNV farmland mosaics are common in most parts of the country. In the area north east of Ulcinj there survives an interesting area of bocage landscape, with a high density of hedged small fields.
Domestic plant and animal genetic diversity is still high, with large numbers of local cultivars and breeds surviving (see MESP, 2010 for further details).
HNV farming systems
Livestock has always been the most important branch of agriculture, as it was well-adapted to the environmental conditions which, with small modification, persist to the present day. The development and presence of numerous kinds of livestock species was greatly influenced by natural resources: natural grasslands (meadows), which are the dominant agricultural land use, favour the development of cattle and sheep production over pig and poultry production.
HNV farming systems are still practiced in many parts of the country. There is a negative trend of decreasing number of farm animals. In the period 2005-2010 cattle decreased by 14% (from 117 842 to 100 835) and sheep decreased by 22% (from 254 898 to 199 764). Cattle and sheep breeding are most widespread in the northern part of the country in Bijelo Polje, Berane and Pljevlja as well as in Niksic.
The majority of cattle are raised in small family farms of less than 3 animals. This is closely connected to the dual purpose of breeding for milk and meat. As in other countries of the region, only around 15-20% of the milk is delivered to dairies. The rest is used for home based dairy processing either for family consumption or for direct sales at the local market. Fattening calves is also an important activity of the family farms.
The extensive grazing systems are very characteristic for these farms. For example transhumance is still practised in almost all municipalities of the northern part of the country. Furthermore, this system is still widely used in Podgorica and Danilovgrad (central part of the country) municipalities. According to the data of Livestock Selection Service on implementation of the subsidies program for 2010, there are more than 2000 families which move from their permanent settlements to the mountain summer cottages called ‘’katuns’’.
Goat breeding is also an important sector, especially in the karst region. In 2009 there were 392 flocks of more than 10 animals each, with a total of 19,826 animals. It is estimated that the total number is close to 40,000 breeding animals (Markovic, 2010).
Olive groves occupy around 3,200 ha. In 2009, the total number of olive trees is 460,250 of which the productive trees are 406 890. The majority of the olive trees are still managed in a traditional way which leads to utilizing only half of their production potential. Therefore, it can be assumed that the newly planted trees are all being managed intensively.
Olive growing is most characteristic for the Adriatic coastline and especially the municipalities of Ulcinj and Bar. These are also the areas with the most significant increase in the olive trees – in Ulcinj they are up to 188 000 in 2009 from 102 000 in 2005.
Although there is no classification of farming practices in Montenegro, two main types of farms and farming systems can be recognized as HNV (Markovic, M., Markovic, B.&B.Lazovic, 2010):
Traditional HNV farming systems, where the whole farm is working predominantly on HNV farmland. These include:
- sedentary, mainly mixed farms (including hay producers, orchards growers etc.) with extensive grazing systems;
- those engaging in transhumance from lowland pastures to the high mountain pastures for 3-5 months in the summer;
- dairy farms in the mountain regions;
- (a recent innovation) organic farms, where these have high biodiversity.
- More intensive farmers, part of whose land consists of extensively-used grassland, landscape elements and traditional orchards, or who inherited extensive farms and decided to continue with the traditional management on that part of their larger holding. Such farmers, mainly conventional, maintain about 30% of the HNV farmland in Montenegro. These areas are normally located in or near the villages and related to the production of a variety of labour-intensive crops. Agro-chemicals are not used regularly; instead, manure is applied once a year.
Examples of some of the HNV farming systems requiring special and targeted support in Montenegro, Photos: Dr. Milan Markovic
Mountain pastures and shelters “katuni”
Permanent pastures represent 62% (325 000ha) of the Montenegrin agricultural land and provide an abundant resource for extensive cattle and sheep breeding.
The majority of cattle are raised in small family farms of less than 3 animals. This means that they are not eligible for either the direct payments or transhumance support.
Only around 15-20% of all milk is delivered to dairies. The rest is used for home based dairy processing either for family consumption or for direct sales at the local market.
Extensive sheep breeding in commercial farms
Preliminary results of the Agriculture Census in 2010 show that the numbers of sheep and goats are increasing compared to the previous census in 2003.
Some of the most commercial sheep farms are de-facto using extensively mountain grasslands contributing to the maintenance of the HNV characteristics.
Extensive management of olive trees
Another important HNV farming system is olive growing, which is most characteristic for the Adriatic coastline and especially the municipalities of Ulcinj and Bar.
Olive groves occupy around 3,200 ha. In 2009, the total number of olive trees is 460,250 of which the productive trees are 406 890.
The majority of the olive trees are still managed in a traditional way which leads to utilizing only half of their production potential. On the other hand, the newly planted trees which are increasing in the recent years are all being managed intensively.