Meadow Championship in Vorarlberg

Was awarded the “Kulturlandschaftspreis 2010” for the conservation of cultivated landscapes

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

Disaggregation level

Project region

LE– Programming Period
LE 07–13

Project period

Project initiator
Amt der Vorarlberger Landesregierung

LE 07-13 information

Themenbereich (Untergliederung): ÖPUL und Umwelt (Biodiversität, ÖPUL)
Maßnahme: M323

Short description

In the framework of the “Meadow Championship“ prizes are awarded for particularly species-rich meadows which developed thanks to the sustainable management and good agricultural practice of farmers in the Province of Vorarlberg. Each meadow is scientifically assessed by experts. They assess for example the dominant plant community of the meadow, the occurrence of rare and endangered plants and the commitment to preserve landscape elements. Each participant gets a description of the registered areas and suggestions for management methods with which the ecological status could be improved. Winners are invited to an expert-guided two-day excursion to the meadows and pastures of Engadin and South Tyrol. Between 2002 and 2009 about 400 farmers participated in the competition (including multiple participation).

Point of departure

Vorarlberg is a small province, but can boast of particularly diverse landscapes. Many parts of these landscapes depend on agricultural utilisation. We often forget that maintaining the cultivated landscape may be very cumbersome. The “Meadow Championship” is aimed at drawing people’s attention to and increasing their appreciation for the service which farmers provide by tending the cultivated landscape.
Furthermore, the Meadow Championship should also highlight the fact that the precondition for the preservation of plant and animal habitats is site-adapted utilisation.

Targets and target groups

The concept of the Meadow Championship can be compared to prizes awarded in the animal breeding sector. In the one case a prize is awarded for a breeding performance, in the other case it is awarded to acknowledge the performance of farmers practising biodiversity management. In the framework of the Meadow Championship farmers are awarded prizes for species-rich meadows and a type of meadow cultivation which is based on good agricultural practice. The Meadow Championship is an effective means of raising farmers’, but also other people’s, awareness for the fact that also ecological objectives are part of the services provided by agriculture. Farmers should not only be proud of their performance in the animal sector, but also of well-managed and ecologically valuable meadows and pastures.

Project implementation and measures

Prizes are awarded in three categories: Individual areas, Complete farm and Alpine farm.
Under the category “Individual areas” farmers can participate in the competition with bedding or rough meadows which are cut only once, and with traditionally species-rich, fertile meadows cut one to three times. In the category “Complete farm” the holding in its entirety is subject to the assessment. Important aspects are a good farm management and a utilisation which is carefully adapted to the particularities of the relevant location and species with a wise connection of intensive and extensive management. In the category “Alpine farm” the occurrence of rare plant species, balanced pastures, landscape elements, trampling, fertilising with manure yes/no, tending of pastures and protection of biotopes are assessed. The meadows are assessed and ranked by an environmental office. After that, a high-class jury reviews the meadows and holdings recommended by the office.
Each participant gets a description of the registered areas with a letter containing suggestions how an ecological improvement could be achieved.
The winners of the competition, the “Meadow Champions”, are invited to a two-day excursion to the meadows and pastures in Engadin and South Tyrol under the guidance of distinguished meadow experts. For the time of the excursion the costs of a “helping hand” at their farms are paid.

Results and effects

• Since the launch of the project in 2002 about 400 farmers (including some multiple participations) already had their meadows assessed by the expert jury.
• The Meadow Championship raises people’s awareness for the service farmers provide by tending the cultivated landscape and shows farmers that only a type of utilisation which is adapted to the relevant site can preserve the habitats of plants and animals.
• The Meadow Championship strengthens the awareness of farmers, but also of society as a whole.
• The Meadow Championship is a showpiece project in the field of nature conservation/agriculture and an important reason that the cooperation between the nature conservation and agricultural sectors has reached a high level in the Province of Vorarlberg.
• For farmers who won the Meadow Championship, the award thus promotes the sale of regional products on regional markets.
• In the meantime follow-up projects have been launched in Baden-Württemberg, in Switzerland, in the Wienerwald and in South Tyrol.
All those meadow championships are based on the idea of the Meadow Championship in Vorarlberg and also mention and refer to it.