The Environmental Board updated their action plan for protecting meadows

14.06.2021 | 19:32

Meadows, otherwise known as semi-natural ecological communities or heritage ecological communities, are meadows with diverse populations that have traditionally been used as pastures or hayfields. Humans must constantly manage and maintain these ecological communities in order to ensure the preservation of plant and animal species native to this heritage and these meadows. In order to guarantee better protection and cohesion of meadows, the Environmental Board wishes to start supporting the maintenance of meadows outside of conservation areas.
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Meadows, otherwise known as semi-natural ecological communities or heritage ecological communities, are meadows with diverse populations that have traditionally been used as pastures or hayfields. Humans must constantly manage and maintain these ecological communities in order to ensure the preservation of plant and animal species native to this heritage and these meadows. In order to guarantee better protection and cohesion of meadows, the Environmental Board wishes to start supporting the maintenance of meadows outside of conservation areas.

Meadows are the most diverse ecosystems at our latitude. They have taken thousands of years to form and must be maintained constantly for them to be properly preserved. 38,000 hectares of meadows are being managed in Estonia currently. At the beginning of the previous century, this number was 1,8 million hectares. The development plan wishes to see at least 50,000 hectares of meadows being managed by 2027. In order to achieve this goal, biodiversity must be restored to around 12,000 hectares of meadows.

The budget planned for the maintenance and restoration of heritage ecological communities until 2027 is 35,7 million euros.

The goals listed in the 2021-2027 period plan are to raise people’s awareness of the maintenance and value of meadows, make meadow conservation efforts more effective, manage them consistently, improve the quality of the management service and organise the way in which data is gathered. “It is vital to continue managing the meadows we already maintain, to establish cohesion between the different areas, create a consultation system for landowners and managers and develop our data banks,” said Kaidi Siim, head of the Environmental Board’s Land Management bureau.

In order to guarantee protection and cohesion of meadows, the Environmental Board must start supporting the maintenance of meadows outside of conservation areas. “Thus it is important to improve awareness of the necessity of managing the meadows, make investments into making the management sustainable and improve management quality. We also wish to continue with research and inventories to receive up to date data, so we can assess the effectiveness of our management and restoration work,” added Gunnar Sein, head specialist for the Environmental Board’s Land Management bureau.

The growing network of meadows helps create a more diverse environment. Through these meadows, it is possible to create better and safer opportunities for the coexistence of nature and humans. For example, well-managed meadows help relieve the stress that geese put on cereal crop.

Minister of the Environment, Tõnis Mölder, stated that Estonia has an important role to play in conserving biodiversity, since a large part of Europe’s conservation is tied to semi-natural ecological communities. “Increasing and preserving biodiversity is an important clause of the coalition agreement, through which we plan to compile a biodiversity action plan with the help of scientists. Meadows are sure to play an important role here,” said Mölder.

Natural values attributed to heritage ecological communities can only be preserved through the help of our meadow managers. The action plan sees their numbers rise from two hundred to nearly a thousand. The government is supporting both restoration and management of meadows through different grants.

Additional information on meadows, management plans and grants can be found on the home page of the Environmental Board

Andri Küüts

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