Šilutė municipality and areas close to it is unique area in Lithuania well known for its rich biodiversity (mostly concentrated in the case study areas), fishing and floods. Bird migratory route crosses the area, hundreds of bird species are found here and thousands of geese could be observed in meadows in springtime. Few globally endangered bird species (e.g. Aquatic Warbler, Great Snipe and etc.) breed in Nemunas delta and create potential to attract the ornithologists worldwide.
At the same time, the territory remains an intensive farming area. The interests of farmers and nature conservation clash in the grasslands inviting for the search of most valuable solution for grassland management and planning. It becomes crucial to assess nature values with the same parameters as farming activities, demonstrate economic value nature could create what actually means to speak about nature in the language of economics or in principle of ecosystem services.
In this pilot area nature tourism could become a linking part between farming and nature protection providing the region with the most valuable grassland management solution. However, nature tourism is not well developed yet.
- We tried to implement business catalytic activities by promoting nature tourism, where grassland management shall be essential precondition for developing the areas as an attractive tourism destination. Various interviews and discussions have been made and it was agreed that guidebook for birdwatchers could be this catalytic activity that should stimulate bird watching tourism (one of the major segments of nature tourism) in Šilutė municipality. This guidebook has been finalized – you can find it here. It received the huge popularity, therefore, the second edition was released. The book was distributed for target audience in special events and fairs e.g. in one of the biggest tourism fair for birdwatchers “Birdfair 2018“.
- The integrated planning tool was tested in the level of municipality.
- Notice board of the project was built on the way from Šilutė to Rusnė. The notice board contains information about nature tourism as well as grassland management.
- We organised 3 visitor days where we presented the resources the region has for nature tourism and ecosystem services of grasslands. 1 visitor day has been organized in September 2017. The 2nd event took place in April 2018. And the 3rd one was organised in September 2018. More than 400 visitors attended all events.