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THE WESTERN BALKANS
THE WESTERN BALKANS, THE FERTILE SOIL FOR HIGH NATURE VALUE FARMING
In most parts of the Western Balkans, agriculture is the most important branch of economy. For centuries, farmers have used the high natural potential of this region for performing agricultural activities. This is illustrated by the fact that the share of the agricultural area is 40% of the territory of the Western Balkans. Livestock and agriculture, two pillars of agriculture are deeply rooted in the tradition of these areas.
The Western Balkans, with its exceptional wealth of plant and animal life, is one of the richest parts of Europe in terms of biodiversity. There are many endemic species (species that live only in the Western Balkans) and characteristic habitats, many of which are of European or global importance for preservation.
Many agricultural habitats significant for biodiversity have been created by centuries of traditional grazing practices and non-intensive methods of agricultural production. The link between the high nature value farming, biodiversity and traditional landscapes of the Western Balkans is very strong. Not surprisingly, the region (Southeast Europe including the Western Balkans) is considered to be the "green gold" and "green lungs" of Europe (EEA).
The countries of the Western Balkans as candidates for EU membership are gradually changing their agricultural policies in order to comply with the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union. The greatest challenge before us is to ensure a well-managed process of introducing high-quality agricultural production in the policies of the Western Balkan countries.
The density of populations of different species listed in the Red List of endangered species is two to four times higher in the Western Balkans than in the 15 older EU member states (EEA, 2010)
Many old agricultural practices of high nature value have been maintained through tradition, as a lifestyle in the most part of the Western Balkans.
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