The main objective of the project LIFE TO GRASSLANDS is the improvement of the conservation status of dry grasslands in Eastern Slovenia through overgrowth removal and establishment of appropriate long-term use of dry grassland. Two project targeted priority habitat types are: Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) ((* important orchid sites) (EU_6210(*)) and Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe) (EU_6230(*)). The project area consists of four project sub-areas: Haloze, Gorjanci Kum and Pohorje.
The project is concretization and upgrading of the existing system of management of dry grassland in Slovenia through Natura 2000 Management Programme for Slovenia (2015-2020). It will lead to dissemination of good practice examples in the field of active management of Natura 2000 sites in Slovenia as well as elsewhere in central European region.
Preparatory action A.1 – Analysis of the initial situation of the agricultural use of dry grasslands and Action A.2 – Elaboration of the Conservation guidelines for sustainable management of HT 6210(*)/6230(*) in the project areas have been successfully completed, while preparatory actions A.3-involvement of landowners in the project identification of areas for action implementation and A.4-Permit procedures are still in progress (according to time plan).
Conservation guidelines for sustainable management of HT 6210(*) and 6230(*) were prepared for all four project sub-areas (Action A.2) by CB ZRSVN. Conservation guidelines were prepared using a participatory approach, involving experts, partners and relevant stakeholders. Overall, 15 preparatory and communication workshops were organised in Action A.2.
Standardized field method for determination of the conservation status of targeted habitat types using indicator species and their reference values (Action A.2) was developed together with the external subcontractor University of Maribor, Faculty of natural sciences and mathematics. The standardised field form was also developed with the aim to, later on, assess the impact of project activities on targeted habitat types (Action D.1). Initial mapping showed, that HT 6210 (*): is in favorable condition on 28.56 ha in Haloze; 7.16 ha in Kumu and 0.46 ha in Gorjancih, and in unfavorable condition on 18.68 ha in Haloze; 3.66 ha in Kum and 0.72 ha in Gorjanci. The analysis showed that HT 6230 (*) is in favorable condition on 48.99 ha and in unfavorable on 40.67 ha in Pohorje.
Altogether 7,853 initial information or additional information about the progress of the project, were sent to different home and e-mail addresses. Until now, project staff carried out 583 farm visits.
In order to ensure a long-term sustainable multi-functional management of dry grasslands with grazing, late mowing and restoration of traditional orchard, we provided farmers with free usage of project equipment for grazing, mowing and mulching as well as with seedlings of traditional tall fruit tree varieties. We also provide removal of overgrowth and rejuvenation pruning of old fruit trees.
In order to actively involve farmers/landowners into the project’s implementation actions, we organized 20 local workshops: 9 project sub-area (PSA) Haloze, 5 PSA Gorjanci, 4 PSA Kum, and 3 PSA Pohorje. Altogether 356 farmers/landowners attended the local workshops.
To ensure the transparency for the inclusion of landowners/farmers into the project activities, project partners prepared the Public invitation for the inclusion into the project LIFE TO GRASSLANDS activities (Action A.3), which is available on http://www.lifetograsslands.si/javni-poziv-za-vkljucevanjeprijavo-kmetov-v-izvedbene-akcije-projekta/
With the considerable effort from the project staff, we managed to sign 81 Agreements with farmers and landowners. Until now we included 181 landowners/tenants into project activities.
Through the involvement of farmers in the project’s activities and signed Agreements with farmers and landowners on inclusion in the project activities, we have so far managed to ensure sustainable management of dry grasslands on 518 ha of land.
In the autumn of 2017, we began with the removal of overgrowth. So far we have removed the overgrowth on 5.3 ha in Gorjanci and 0.67 ha in Haloze. We also conducted 11 voluntary actions of removal of overgrowth.
We carried out public calls for the purchase of pasture and grazing equipment, trailers for transport of livestock. The project equipment is, in accordance with the signed Agreements, supplied to farmers on Haloze, Kum, and Pohorje project subareas (Action C.2 – Ensuring the appropriate long-term use of dry grasslands).
Together, we will give 103 km of grazing fences for cattle and sheep and provided them with 4 mountain mowers and 1 mulcher (2 mountain mowers on Haloze, 1 on Kum and 1 on Gorjanci).
Through the signed agreements, we ensured the planting of 26 ha of new and restoration of 33 ha of traditional orchards, pruning of 780 old orchard trees (external subcontractor Jabolko Zavod) and supplied farmers with approximately 3,500 seedlings of old fruit saplings (which were for this purpose prepared by the external subcontractor Kartuzija Pleterje) (Action C. 3 – The restoration and maintenance of traditional orchards). We also carried out 8 volunteer actions of fruit tree saplings planting and 15 workshops to present pruning of traditional fruit trees.
We started with the preparation of Farm Management Plans (Action C.5 – Preparation of farm management plans for improving dry grasslands management) and prepared an Expert Proposal for Agri-Environment Programme for common European Agricultural Policy, which was presented to representatives of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, the Agency for Agricultural Markets and Rural Development and Agriculture and Forestry Chamber of Slovenia (Action C.6 – Preparation of an Expert Proposal for AEP measures related to the preservation of the HT 6210(*) and 6230(*)).
External subcontractor, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Department of Geography, prepared The first phase report of the Assessment of the socio-economic impact of the project actions on the local economy and population (Action D.2). External subcontractor, Iskriva, Institute for Development of Local Potentials, prepared The first phase report for the Assessment of the project’s impact on the ecosystem functions (Action D.3).
Awareness raising, education of young people and training/seminar for school and educational staff are implemented according to the time plan. In the project, we have prepared:
- For educational staff: Educational manual with 3 Educational programs for 3 different age levels. Available on http://www.lifetograsslands.si/rezultati-projekta/publikacije/
- For educational staff: A didactic booklet with working sheets for schools. Available on http://www.lifetograsslands.si/rezultati-projekta/publikacije/
- For children of all ages: A didactic game Meet Arnika and Primožek, which is also available on https://www.lifetograsslands.si/spoznaj-travisca-z-arniko-primozkom/
Project staff organized more than 30 events (presentations, workshops or nature science days in the field) for children and teachers. More than 1,000 children and more than 100 teachers participated in project events. The Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation has prepared an educational programme for teachers “Suha travišča kot model za pouk spoznavanja okolja, naravoslovja in biologije”, which is available at http://www.lifetograsslands.si/rezultati-projekta/publikacije/
The program was enrolled in the National Catalog of Additional Educational Programs and Training for Educational Workers (KATIS) at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. Successful integration of “dry meadows as a sample for learning about environmental and biology”, into official national education programs, is a great achievement for the project.
We have established and equipped two info rooms, at Haloze and Pohorje project areas, and one project grasslands classroom in Kum (info room in Gorjanci is in progress) (Action E.7 – Equipment for setting up project info rooms in Haloze, Pohorje, Gorjanci and Kum). The purpose of the establishment info rooms is to inform the national, local and general public about the importance of dry grasslands, habitats and species, as well as the promotion of Natura 2000, the project LIFE TO GRASSLANDS and LIFE financial mechanism. Various presentations and workshops are already being implemented in the established info rooms and classroom.