“Natura 2000 is one of the European Union’s outstanding achievements” – EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik
On 21 May 1992, the Habitats Directive came into force. This measure, coupled with the 1979 Birds Directive, is a foundation stone of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy and the Natura 2000 network. Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth. Life in all its varied forms makes our planet both habitable and beautiful, and not only do we enjoy the natural world for leisure and aesthetic pleasure, but we depend on natural ecosystems for vital materials and food production. To protect biodiversity is not just an ethical thing to do, but also in our self best interest. Through measures like Natura 2000 network, the EU countries can continue to protect biodiversity within Europe and more.
LIFE Viva Grass project does not aim to provide an active impact on Natura 2000 sites, like nature restoration. However, LIFE Viva Grass project case study areas in each of three Baltic States covers significant Natura 2000 territories. In Lithuania it’s unique Nemunas river delta in Silute District Municipality with estuaries, natural dystrophic lakes and alluvial meadows; and Saltuona river valley in Dubysa Regional Park with hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities, lowland hay meadows and whimsical beauty Scarce Large Blue. Project territories in Latvia, Cēsis municipality, include Fennoscandian lowland species-rich dry to mesic grasslands, hay meadows, Northern Boreal alluvial meadows and semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies that are important orchid sites. Lääne-Saare is Estonia’s most western municipality that is rich with coastal meadows, alvars and dry grasslands.
LIFE Viva Grass project is aiming to support maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by grasslands through encouraging ecosystem based planning and economically viable grassland management. In frames of this challenging project a series of four international seminars on different aspects of grassland management and economic development will be held. The first one – a creative think tank exchange seminar “Enhancing Economic viability of Grasslands by Green Farming in Europe” will take place on 27th – 29th May in Kandava Municipality, Latvia.
Through its coherent data examination, policy assessments and economical studies the LIFE Viva Grass project is willing to demonstrate opportunities for multifunctional use of grasslands as basis for sustainability of rural areas and stimulus for local economies. The Natura 2000 sites within the project case study areas and expectedly larger territories of valuable grasslands in the region, is expected to gain benefit of long-term self-sustaining grassland ecosystem management solutions.