The project “Integrated planning tool to ensure viability of grasslands” (acronym – LIFE Viva Grass) aims to prevent loss of High Nature Value grasslands by providing the Integrating Planning Tool (Tool) and considering socio-economic factors impacting nature conservation policy. The Tool will provide models for economically viable management of grassland biodiversity that would be applicable all over the Europe and particularly in integration of marginal grasslands areas that experience socio-economic decline, land abandonment and consequent loss of farmland biodiversity.
The grassland ecosystems of the boreal biogeographic region are mostly formed as result of interaction between humans’ (farmers) and natural environment. Therefore, to ensure the long-term survival of grasslands, the socio-economic aspects should be realized as an integral part of all agri-environmental and nature conservation measures and rural development policies.
The project will demonstrate opportunities for multifunctional use of grasslands’ ecosystem services as basis for sustainable development of rural areas.
- Grassland ecosystem service assessment at the selected case study areas;
- Development of the Tool by addressing socio-economic matter in nature conservation policies;
- Development of pilot scenarios for long-term high nature value (HNV) grassland management;
- Capacity building on applying the Tool for the relevant target groups and operating the Tool at national, regional, municipal, protected areas and farm level.
Project is implemented in 9 demo areas in 3 Baltic states.
Project implementation period: 06/2014 – 11/2018
Environmental problem targeted
The area covered by natural and semi-natural grasslands has considerably decreased in Europe throughout the last century as result of land conversion to urban territories, arable land, afforestation, while remoter or/and wet areas underwent marginalization and abandonment.
Loss of grassland biodiversity leads to degradation or even destroying of the ecosystem functions and services, which would require enormous financial investments to maintain or provide these services artificially.
Standard ecosystem services provided by a single ecosystem:
Provisioning services – e.g. hay for animal feeding, biomass for energy production, herbs for medical treatment, genetic resources;
Regulating services – e.g. water regulation, soil retention, nutrient regulation, pollination;
Cultural services – rural and urban landscape and its aesthetic qualities and cultural heritage, providing basis for recreation and tourism, as well as quality of life for living in that area;
Land abandonment has significant ecological and social consequences – the disappearance of a fine-grained mosaic landscape structure leads to its homogenization and the loss of semi-natural habitats and a consequent decrease in biodiversity value; at the same time it results in loss of traditional landscape, identity of the place and creates feeling of depression among the local people.