Mountain-pasture farmers observe biodiversity

We care for our mountain-pastures!

Topic area
Environment, biodiversity, nature conservation
Agriculture and forestry, incl. value chain

Disaggregation level
Agriculture
Alpine pasture management & mountain agriculture
Nature conservation
Biodiversity
Protected areas
ÖPUL
Climate protection

Project region
Burgenland
Carinthia
Lower Austria
Upper Austria
Salzburg
Styria
Tyrol
Vorarlberg
Vienna

LE– Programming Period
LE 14–20

Project period
2015-2016 (geplantes Projektende)

Project costs overall
88.830 €

Priority
EN - 1.1.1. a) Begleitende Berufsbildung, Fort- und Weiterbildung zur Verbesserung der fachlichen Qualifikation - Landwirtschaft

Project initiator
Österreichisches Kuratorium für Landtechnik und Landentwicklung (ÖKL)

Short description

“We care for our mountain-pastures”: this is the slogan of the project on observing biodiversity on mountain pastures in Austria. Starting in 2013 about 50 mountain-pasture farmers have been observing the flora and fauna on their meadows. This can be seen as a valuable contribution to protect and maintain biodiversity.

The project objective is to get the mountain-pasture farmers interested and enthusiastic about the flora and fauna living on their mountain meadows. Those farmers document the development of specific indicators on a yearly basis.  In this way they learn about the correlation between farm management and biodiversity and furthermore become trained experts on their own mountain meadows. By offering informative material (botanical and zoological profiles, books and booklets) to visitors, the acquired knowledge on biodiversity can be shared.

Further information can be found on the following website: www.biodiversitaetsmonitoring.at

Point of departure

Bundesminister Andrä Rupprechter: „Die flächendeckende Bewirtschaftung unserer Berge und Almen ist von hoher Bedeutung für die Lebensmittelerzeugung, den Tourismus, den Schutz vor Naturgefahren und den Erhalt der Artenvielfalt. Ein Viertel der Grünfutterfläche Österreichs entfällt auf Almen und Bergmähder. Aktuell sind im Grünen Bericht 2014 österreichweit rund 8.400 Almen angeführt. Deren Fortbestand sowie die Erhaltung der Alpinen Kulturlandschaft sind unbestritten von einer landwirtschaftlichen Nutzung und Bewirtschaftung inklusive Pflege abhängig.

Federal minister Andrä Rupprechter underlines the importance of the comprehensive management of mountain meadows and pastures, as they are greatly significant for biodiversity, tourism, food production and the protection against natural hazards. The mountain meadows and pastures make up about one quarter of the total green fodder area in Austria. The “Green Report 2014” currently lists about 8400 Austrian mountain pastures. The continuing existence of mountain pastures as well as the preservation of the cultural landscape in alpine areas definitely require care and an extensive alpine pasture management.

The extensive alpine grassland can be seen as a hot spot for biodiversity. It does not only show an enormous variety of animal and plant species, but also serves as a habitat. Globally speaking, extensive grassland is defined as one of the most species-rich biotopes next to the tropical rainforests. Mountain-meadows account for a significant share of the extensive grassland area in Austria. According to the “Green Report 2014”  the area of mountain meadows and pastures has diminished dramatically from 921.000 to 468.051 hectares, in the period from 1960 to 2010.

Targets and target groups

This project targets mountain-meadow farmers as well as farming-community members.  The major educational goal is to improve the understanding and the awareness of the meaning of biodiversity on mountain-meadows. It is a further aim to better explain the targets of the environmental protection plan as well as of the farming requirements in the context of the relevant actions from Austrian agri-environmental program ÖPUL (alpine pasturing, shepherding).
Special attention is paid to the interaction of species/ habitat diversity, pasture management and regulatory pasture management requirements.
In a second step the acquired knowledge shall be provided to interested visitors in order to improve the society’s understanding on the particularity of our mountain landscape.

Summarized project purpose:

·         sustainable knowledge building
·         improving the image of mountain-pasture farming
·         helping farmers to gain identity and to become more self-confident
·         remuneration for their services to preserve biodiversity

Project implementation and measures

1.       Attraction of strong attention and organization of introductive courses for farmers by skilled ecologists: Currently about 50 mountain-pasture farms participate in the observing and reporting project on the biodiversity of their mountain meadows. Due to the remarkable number of mountain-pasture holdings (about 8400) in Austria, there is a high potential for the achievement of wide ranging impacts. The introductive training courses will still be offered in  the future by skilled ecologists.

2.       Training material for mountain-pasture farms: Every year new zoological and botanical profiles, including indicator species, are elaborated and handed over to the participating farmers. The participants highly appreciate the provided profiles, as they are a key element for the effective knowledge transfer as well as for publicity work. One major target group of this project are those farmers that provide additional activities in terms of the dissemination and transfer of knowledge to the public. As constituted in 2015 a total of 6 mountain-pasture farms, providing information for a better understanding on their natural environment, have been introduced to this project. Furthermore, educational material (f.ex. booklets/ folders etc.) have been created to be distributed to the visitors.

3.       Close cooperation with the LFI in terms of educational activities focusing on “biodiversity on mountain-pasture farms”.

 

 

Results and effects

Nearly 50 mountain-pasture farms, thereof six mountain-pasture farms, providing additional information for a better understanding on their natural environment, have undergone an introductory training carried out by skilled ecologists so far.
The farmers provide reports on the documentation of the determined selection of species on a yearly basis. Furthermore, the documentation forms are entered into the online database of the following website: www.biodiversitaetsmonitoring.at.
In total about 35 botanical and zoological profiles have been elaborated so far. They became also very popular among others, because of their comprehensive layout and their creative design.
The six mountain-pasture farms that are additionally providing information for a better understanding on their natural environment, have further been provided with a customized so-called “mountain-pasture book” as well as milk lids and profiles to be distributed to the visitors. The provision and dissemination of the informative material strongly supports the transfer of the acquired knowledge as well as it promotes the project itself.

Erfahrung

The specific species indicators that we have elaborated in terms of this projects make it very easy to assess biodiversity as well as to observe its development. In this way farmers and visitors of mountain-pasture farms are likely to develop a more personal relationship to plants and animals.
People tend to appreciate and protect nature much more, if they are familiar with it. The society’s caring empathy for nature and its diversity definitely contributes to the preservation of biodiversity. People multiplying the value of mountain-pastures play an especially important role.  The six mountain-pasture farms that are committed to the communication of nature make biodiversity also accessible for amateurs. It is equally important to target and inform farmers and non-farmers! We have made the experience that the botanical and zoological profiles were highly appreciated regardless of the target group’s age.

Finally, we want to amend that we constantly aim at a close collaboration of all parties, the participants, the project partners, the BMLFUW, at all project stages.