In april 25, 2016 Merle Kuris from BEF Estonia participated in a nature conservation seminar in Lääne County and introduced good examples related to management of grasslands from different EU countries based on information collected during LIFE VIVA Grass study tours. Also the brochure “Viable grassland management – experience, challenges and opportunities” was distributed in the seminar.
In Lääne County, of which 32% is under protection and where a big part of Estonian valuable meadows are located, grassland management is a very topical theme. But meadows cannot be preserved without the help of farmers managing them. For farmers only the beauty of meadows is not enough – they also need to earn a living. The good news is that grasslands offer various possibilities for that, for example selling meat and milk from grazing animals or products made from them, using grass biomass for energy or fodder production, production of honey, collecting medical herbs, using grasslands for tourism or educational purposes. The introduced good examples from Sweden, UK, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania can help to create and implement new ideas also in Estonia.
The seminar proved that good examples can also be found in Estonia. The representative of Lihula Soojus Tõnu Teesaar talked about the positive experience of Lihula boiler house regarding the use of grass biomass for heating. He expressed an opinion that it would make sense to establish similar boiler houses also in other municipalities of Lääne county. Kaja Lotman, the Head of Hiiu-Lääne-Saare region of the Environmental Board reminded in her presentation the legendary Väinameri project that contributed a lot to the protection of the coastal nature as well as the development of rural life. For example, Väinameri project brought beef cattle to Lääne county. Beef cattle is more suitable for management of coastal meadows than dairy cattle because they are unpretentious and do not need milking. According to Kaja Lotman, production of biomethane or compost from the excessive grass biomass could be perspective. Also, the establishment of a local slaughterhouse and a tannery, as well as development of production of meat and leather products, could be considered. Also, cheese production could have some potential because currently it does not exist in Lääne county.
Ca 30 people participated in the seminar, including the Minister of the Environment, Mr Marko Pomerants, representatives from Environmental Board, Lääne county government, municipalities, enterprises, non-governmental organisations and regional newspaper. The participants had a possibility to ask questions and discuss local/regional problems with representatives of the Environmental Board and also the Minister of the Environment. The seminar was organised by Lääne County government and Europe Direct information centre in Lääne County.
The presentation of Merle Kuris (in Estonian) is available here