In harmony with nature - Management objectives for Natura 2000 sites
CEEweb for Biodiversity has undertaken, in the framework of the LIFE NGO Operating Grant project work plan 2023, to prepare a summary and guide on the management of Natura 2000 sites, the types of management that can be carried out on them, and the recommendations for each type of land use. The guide is intended primarily for farmers and landowners
Sustainable land management is vital for preserving the diversity and ecological value of grasslands, forests, vineyards, orchards, and reedbeds. Each ecosystem requires careful stewardship to maintain its unique biodiversity and ecosystem services. By implementing appropriate practices, we can balance agricultural needs and nature conservation. In summary, the drive towards naturalness, a return to traditional forms of farming, and extensive and ecological cultivation are the guiding principles, particularly on Natura 2000 sites.
Grasslands play a crucial role in providing diverse forage for livestock and supporting wildlife. To maintain their ecological value, it is essential to reduce nutrient levels by controlling invasive plant species and grasses. Regular hay cutting and grazing are necessary, which by avoiding nutrient enrichment are crucial methods for preserving biodiversity.
Forests face threats like clear-felling, loss of deadwood, and the removal of old trees. While systematic intervention is not as essential, and may often be ecologically beneficial, it is not impossible to maintain economically significant stands by introducing continuous cover forestry methods. Favouring natural regeneration and maintaining deadwood are vital to support various species. Gentle methods of forest harvesting (such as horse-logging, as the traditional craft of Europe), may have a leading role and by avoiding soil disturbance, as well as promoting native tree species all these contribute to sustainable forest management.
Even though arable fields have the least biodiversity, they still house several species, particularly in field margins. The most important step is the protection and maintenance of specialised weed species, which is often neglected as a subject. Therefore it is essential to maintain unmanaged field margins. If carried out professionally implementing extensive practices, avoiding chemical use, and promoting biological pest control may enhance both agricultural productivity and biodiversity. As well as conserving natural field margins, hedgerows, and interspersing flower strips support various organisms.
Vineyards and Orchards:
In the case of vineyards and orchards, the most important tasks are to return to extensive cultivation and to maintain the undergrowth by hay cutting or grazing (intercropping in the case of vines). Extensive management in vineyards and orchards can enhance biodiversity. Adopting predictive pest control and focusing on biological methods minimize chemical use. Planting mixed cover crops in vineyards and preserving traditional varieties contribute to ecological balance.
Nurturing reed beds and preventing habitat loss in wetlands supports a diverse array of bird species. It is essential to establish the right cutting rotation to ensure that different species specialised in different ages of reedbeds can find a home.
Embracing sustainable land management practices is crucial for preserving biodiversity across various ecosystems. By carefully considering the needs of both agricultural production and environmental conservation, we can create a harmonious coexistence between human activities and nature's abundance.
At present the publication is available only in Hungarian here.