Incentives for joint pastures to retain the population in Lonjsko Polje

The Lonjsko polje Nature Park has been known to cooperate with the locals and it has secured them almost two million euros worth of subsidies

People

1

Money

50 000 EUR

Time

7 years

Organization

Public Institute of Lonjsko Polje Nature Park (JUPP)

Country

Croatia

Location

Lonjsko polje

Protection level

IUCN V

Achievements
Total incentive obtained: HRK 14 million (half from state budget, half from EU)
Number of families: 110 family farms (OPG), positive effect on about 400 people
25% of the population of Lonjsko Polje has direct economic benefit, while 70% are benefited indirectly
Increase in number of animals: 3200 head
Increase in area conserved by grazing: 3500 ha
Keeping of indigenous animal breeds
Reduced number of hectares under invasive species (false indigo, greater burdock): about 100 ha

Problem/opportunity

Problem
Loss of grassland habitats
Overgrowth with invasive species
Depopulation
Reductions in herds
Opportunity
Accession of Croatia to the EU and the implementation of the EU agriculture policies

Planning

Pre-requisites for sucess
Legal:
Implementation of agricultural policies
Lonjsko Polje as part of the Natura 2000 ecological network
Institutional:
Support of the Croatian Agency for the Environment and Nature (HAOP), APZ, local government, and MZOE
Internal capacities:
Knowledge of the agriculture act, bringing together stakeholders, organising meetings.

Implementation

Initial idea
Spatial definition of the joint pastures (in cooperation with local government)
Determine which users are on each pasture and number of animals per pasture
Define the proposed legal regulations – ordinance on joint pastures for the assignment of leases
Agreed conditions of conduct – nature conservation conditions (decision on use from MZOE), animal owners drafted agreement on the use of pastures (grazing seasons, permitted numbers of animals, evacuation pasture, meadows, restoration of overgrown pastures) and all were required to sign
Agricultural Lands Agency and Payments Agency agreed that entry into the Arkod system would be defined by the part of the cadastral plot of the pasture (and not to the entire plot which was previously a problem).
Via this Ordinance, the state enabled farmers to lease these lands for temporary use for a 5-year period, without the need for a public tender.
Rights to information
Inclusion of the local population in adopting management plans and spatial plans for the Lonjsko Polje area.
With the formation of the councils, the local population was able to contribute to ideas and plans for further development of the area, and for resource management in the park.
Stakeholders involvement
Administrative:
Outlining the issue of large pasture complexes and their use to the competent ministry.
Lack of legislation governing joint pastures.
Inclusion of overgrown pastures into the review of forest management plans. Croatian Forests take overgrown areas under their management.

Changes

Positive effects on environment
Habitat restoration (preventing succession), increasing populations of the threatened bird species corncrake (Crex crex)
Increased numbers of indigenous animal breeds of horses (Croatian Posavina horse and Croatian Coldblooded horse)
People increased their care for the animals that maintain the pastures, thereby increasing pasture area and reducing the area under invasive species.
Key benefits
For nature:
Conservation of the floodplain areas that are the main feature of the park.
Conservation of traditional animal husbandry, as an important ecological process.
Conservation of the floodplain landscape
For people:
Keeping the population in the area
Conservation of cultural heritage

Replication and recommendations

Essential things to replication
The example of Austria as the only EU Member State with an organised system of joint pasture use
Existence of large joint pastures under state ownership
Countries prior to accession to the EU
Animal owners able to lease state lands
Protected area that recognised this type of grassland as a valuable resource
Protected area needs a manager
Sustainability
Supper of the Ministry of Agriculture and MZOE

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