For nature, for farmers

Pictures © Barbara Knowles
Projects to improve rural incomes, environment and natural heritage
The Barbara Knowles Fund has been working in the eastern Carpathians of Transylvania since 2008 with local projects to improve rural incomes, support traditional agriculture in its modern context, understand the ecology and biology of biodiversity hotspots in farmed landscapes especially mountain hay meadows and wood pastures, identify and protect key species and habitats in need of conservation, and influence policy in Brussels and Bucharest.
The natural and cultural treasures of this special part of the world are closely connected. By helping local people to realise their value (in both senses of the word) we aim to improve the rural economy, while supporting activities that keep it special.

Coming soon! A new NGO, AgriNatura, to manage our nature conservation projects and services for nature friendly farmers.
Results-Based Payments for Biodiversity: a new Pilot Agri-Environment Scheme for the Tarnava Mare and Pogány-havas Regions 2016-2019
2015 report
Presentations and video from our Brussels seminar on wood pasture policy
Prince Charles on Biodiversity: brief mention of our Remarkable Trees of Romania project
Pictures of this Botanical heaven July 2015 taken by one of our visitors 
Launch of Remarkable Trees of Romania by HRH Prince Charles 2 June 2015

Study tour of Romanian wood pastures May 2015
Launch of our new Mountain Meadow Mowing project, with high-tech Brielmaier machines kindly loaned by Martin Brielmaier. The project aims to restore abandoned meadows by providing a mowing service to the owners.Launch pictures here.
Case study of our region and activities published by the Satoyama Initiative

Interview with Barbara on sustainable farming and healthy food for the Food Climate Research Network, May 2014
New mountain bike holidays in our region - contact
Nyírő Gergely <>
Barbara gets an MBE for services to science communication and the environment, January 2014.

Transylvania hay article by Adam Nicholson in National Geographic July 2013, researched in our region with our help - visit us for a Transylvania hay holiday!
Valuing the small farm: article about the region for The Ecologist March 2013 by Luke Dale Harris, whose visit was hosted by us.
Video message from HRH the Prince of Wales for our policy seminar in the European Parliament in November 2012
Publication of our film in October 2012 on traditional hay meadow management and culture - copies available from Barbara.
New publication December 2011:
Mountain hay meadows: hotspots of biodiversity and traditional culture.
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales visited our projects on 18 May 2011. The visit included a walk to an area of seasona
l ponds which are the focus of our wetlands research, and the opportunity to meet people involved in our rural development, local food, biology, education and community development projects.
Our project "Mountain hay meadows: hotspots of biodiversity and traditional culture" was awarded the 2010 prize from the Gesellschaft für Ökologie – the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland -  for "an outstanding project in applied ecology".
29-31 May 2016 - Management of extensive grasslands in mountain areas, a conference organized by PHA and Landcare Germany.
7-14 August 2016 - 8th international hay making camp in Gyimes Or you can join the EUCAN conservation working party 6-16 August to combine the hay camp with some clearing of overgrown meadows.
17 November 2015 - Wood pastures in Europe, a policy seminar in the European Parliament, Brussels. 

9-16 August 2015 - 7th international hay camp details and pictures

3-10 August 2014 -
our 6th International hay making festival
11-18 August 2013 - 5th International hay making festival

23-24 May 2013 conference
Mountain hay meadows- economic, environmental and social value
6 and 8 November 2012: Europe's hay meadows in decline – what are we losing and what can we do? A test case for EU agriculture and biodiversity policy. Policy seminar in the European Parliament and film showing in the European Commission Brussels
Hay-making festival  21-28 August 2011. Our most successful haymaking festival yet, with visitors from Hungary, Austria, Norway, Romania, UK and Republic of Ireland.
11-13 August 2011 ‘How to assess transformations in rural areas?. Read a report about the third annual Romanian Rural Development Seminar by Rural’Est, organised with the Pogány-havas Association.

We hosted a group of conservation volunteers who recorded an astonishing diversity of butterflies and moths in our region.

Seminar in the European Parliament on 28 June 2011:"The place of High Nature Value Farming in the Common Agricultural Policy" We organised a seminar at the European Parliament in Brussels to raise awareness of the importance of high nature value farming in Europe.

Read about our conference 7-9 June 2010. "Mountain hay meadows: hotspots of biodiversity and traditional culture"

Influencing agriculture and environment policy

Thanks to the support of the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, we have increased our activities to influence Romanian and EU agricultural policy. We initiated and helped to organise a seminar in the European Parliament on 28 June 2011, in collaboration with RSPB, Birdlife International, and EFNCP and supported by our MEP Sógor Csaba. A second seminar followed in November 2012, on Mountain hay meadows, and the third was 17 November 2015 on Wood pastures in Europe.

In July 2011 we hosted a workshop of grant holders from the EFNCP in Transylvania, and amongst other achievements we created an informal Collation on High Nature Value Farming in Romania.

Workshops in October 2011 and 2012 developed proposals for improving the Romanian agri-environment payments scheme.

Thanks to all our supporters!
You can help our work with a donation of money or equipment, by visiting our region and encouraging your friends to come, by practical conservation volunteering, by buying local products and by spreading the word. Thanks to our newest donors Stichting Polar Lights, Lund Trust, a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, and Greentumble.

Support our work
How can you help to preserve the best aspects of this special place while helping the people who live and work here - and who are the custodians of its treasures - to make a good living? Read more about our projects and support our work through these pages.

 © Barbara Knowles 2010