July 22, 2022

Kaidi Tingas

Semi-natural grasslands managers are testing a results-based support system

This week, together with scientists from the Environmental Board and the University of Tartu, the managers of the semi-natural grasslands in Lahemaa assessed the biodiversity of their meadows, along with the ease or difficulty of mowing and grazing, and how the area being cared for and the natural values found there have changed over the years.

The fun started when the search for different indicator species began, helped by the soon-to-be-published book Eesti pärandniitude tunnustaimed (Indicator plant species of Estonian heritage meadows) from young doctoral biology students at the University of Tartu.

Why are we doing this? In the course of the LIFE-IP ForEst&FarmLand project, we are testing a result-based support system that would give meadow managers additional motivation to manage their areas, while also raising their awareness of the natural values located on their lands and how to preserve and promote these values through management. Such an approach should create a closer link between the caretaker, their lands, and the biodiversity found there.

In the case of results-based support, experts determine the criteria of the meadow and the methods which the manager can use when assessing the quality of the meadow. It is these criteria in particular that we are testing and, based on the results, determining whether such a support system motivates the managers of heritage meadows, thus ensuring the better condition of the meadows. Should this become operational, results-based solutions can already be used in the next EU CAP support period.

In any case, the managers of Lahemaa meadows were optimistic and gave a lot of useful feedback on the score sheets and the whole process! They confirmed their willingness to fill in the scoring tables but also the need to learn more about the plants growing on their lands and the birds, insects, pollinators, and amphibians that live there, and would be happy to take part in a more in-depth training programme!