Biodiversity monitoring with Austrian farmers

We care for our pastures!

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

Disaggregation level
Climate protection
Climate change adaptation
Nature conservation
Environmental protection
Alpine pasture management & mountain agriculture
Education & lifelong learning

Project region
Lower Austria
Upper Austria

LE– Programming Period
LE 14–20

Project period
2015-2016 (geplantes Projektende)

Project costs overall
376.301,42 €

Subsidy from LE 14-20
374.400,62 €

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

Since 2007 a large number of Austrian farmers have been observing the development of the rare animal and plant species on their own grassland. The project slogan “We care for …” does not only indicate about the enumeration and documentation of rare specimen; It also shall promote a more respectful approach to nature and support the active cooperation of agriculture and the nature protection sector.

 In 2016 a specific monitoring network, comprising about 700 farms and 12 agricultural partner-schools, has been established. The participants make a valuable contribution to the preservation of the extensive grasslands in Austria. Furthermore, various field excursions and thematic events (Biodiversity on grasslands) are performed by the 18 highly committed project representatives. 

The analysis of the observation data (number of species, management) provides new and interesting details about the species diversity on the extensive grasslands and supports the evaluation of the ÖPUL nature protection measures.


Point of departure

The extensive grassland is one of the most diverse and most endangered biotope type in Austria. Its management is relatively labor intensive. Overall there is strong decline in biodiversity, which can be attributed to the type of land use and the intensification of the agricultural management (overall at favorable locations).

In 2016 a specific monitoring network, comprising about 700 farms and 12 agricultural partner-schools, has been established. The participants have been constantly observing and reporting about the specified indicator species and in this way became experts of their own grassland.

The performed awareness raising and information activities have increased the willingness to take on responsibility for the preservation of the extensive grassland and have furthermore enhanced the farmers’ acceptance regarding the ÖPUL farm management requirements.

Targets and target groups

The major aim of the project is to constantly observe and report about the specified indicator species and to raise the awareness for the importance and the value of extensive grasslands. The farmers can personally convince themselves of the close correlation between grassland management and biodiversity performance. Furthermore, the farmers are regularly informed about the farming requirements in terms of the ÖPUL nature conservation measures.

The observation results (observation methodology: BDML 2.0) will be statistically evaluated and analyzed. All results will be recorded in a central database. The generated assessment reports will be used for certain evaluation activities in terms of the ÖPUL environmental program as well as for the optimization process of the existent farm management requirements.

Target groups: all Austrian farmers and agricultural schools/technical schools

Project implementation and measures

The project is being implemented successfully for several years now (since 2007).

The central activities target:
  • the supervision of the observatory network (consisting of about 700-800 farmers and 12 agricultural partner-schools)
  • the farmers’ training on the observation methodology BDML 2.0
  • the cooperation with the initiatives “"Zurück zum Ursprung" and "Blühendes Österreich" in order to achieve a broad impact
  • the establishment of a network for the active representatives from the regions
  • the planning and realization of events hosted by the regional representatives
  • the creation of training materials and the performance of PR tasks (composing technical articles for specialized media)
  • the collection and evaluation of the data acquired by the participating farmers

Results and effects

„This year I did not cut a specific patch of grassland covered with spreading bellflowers to allow them to cast their seeds. Now I am already curious if there will be more of them flowering on my field in the next year!” – This meaningful statement was made by a participant from the region of Styria.
By performing precise observation activities on the fields the interest for the correlation between species variety and grassland management was enhanced.
The farmers provide us with feedback and tell us about their experience on a regular basis. The feedback is thoroughly positive (especially from the female participants) and a the participants’ enthusiasm for the “new“ subject is remarkable. The performed field excursions and the events launched by the project representatives are well attended and efficiently contribute to dissemination of the project idea.


The observation and monitoring activities on certain indicator species effectively contribute to the farmers’ sense of identity and imparts them a sense of value for their work and the services that they provide.
“One only protects what one knows”: Having a close and emotional bond to the nature and its diversity, is one major driving factor for the project’s success.
It is of great importance to build a solid and common basis of trust