Pilot programme for hay meadows has started

 

 

The meadows

The meadows are a gem of the project area: Not only are they the habitat of the Maculinea butterflies, but they also harbour numerous nationally and internationally protected species like the Hungarian Iris (Iris aphylla spp. hungarica), the red flowering bugloss species Echium maculatum, the Agile Frog (Rana dalmatina) and the Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) as well as a high biodiversity in general.

 

The land use

The meadows are mown once or twice per year, not fertilized and often grazed in autumn or spring. The mowing date can be late in the year (July, August and September). This type of land use has been carried out over the centuries but currently the meadows are under threat because of land use abandonment and the resulting succession as well as transformation to sheep pastures. The causes leading to a decline of mowing are the poor profitability of agriculture for young farmers and the aging of land owners and subsistence farmers who in most of the cases sold their cows and don't need big quantities of hay any more.

 

Inherent nature conservation

The subsistence farmers who still use their meadows are unwittingly conducting high quality nature conservation activities - extensive mowing linked to a spatial and temporal land use heterogeneity, which creates a gradual sequence of slightly different habitats.

That's why this type of land use, the more so as connected with a high amount of work, should be rewarded -  it is contributing to the maintenance of an important part of the traditional landscape and culture as well as the regional and local biodiversity.

 

Our pilot programme

Despite this fact the national Agri-environment package for high nature value (HNV) grassland is not eligible for the project communes (for different reasons - we'll provide more information soon). This is where our pilot Agri-environment programme comes into play: it offers a reward for the late mowing of the hay meadows. Our requirements are modeled on the conditions of the national subvention programme, with two important exceptions:

- only for hay meadows, not for pastures

- the mowing date has to be after the 25th of August due to the occurrence of Maculinea butterflies and the Molinia caerulea meadows.

 

We wish all the participating farmers good luck and say thank you to all those who helped to realize this programme!

 

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