Cooperative and Cooperation Council as drivers of the development of sustainable grazing at Gajna

The Gajna pasture is a symbol of the excellent cooperation among local livestock owners, who are conserving biodiversity through traditional breeding and grazing practices in floodplain conditions

People

3

Money

100 000€

Time

4 years

Organization

Brodsko Ecological Society (BED)

Country

Croatia

Location

Slavonija, Gajna (Slavonia-Prisava floodplain pasture)

Protection level

Natura 2000

Accomplishments (overview)
The only protected area in Croatia for which the management was entrusted to the local community and an NGO
A cooperative of livestock breeders was founded and includes 16 family farms (OPGs; positive benefit for 50 family members).
Constant increase in the number of OPGs since the end of the war.
Rehabilitation of veterans who now run OPGs.
Establishment of an intersectoral Cooperation Council.
Subsidies received for the joint pasture, together with Lonjsko Polje.

Problem/opportunity

Problem to be resolved
Overgrowth of pastures
Loss of indigenous animal breeds
Depopulation
Opportunity to be taken
Flood control
Cultural heritage
Retaining the local population
Sustainable livestock breeding
Joint management of pastures
Local products

Planning

Key requirements for success
Land use (state/private)
Overlapping authority (conservation, agriculture, water)
Poor coordination of responsible sectors
Greater valuation of local products (*social benefit from grazing on floodplain pastures)
Establishment of the Cooperation Council (local population, competent sectors)
Retention of the local population
Preserving local practices

Implementation

Key phases – from idea to realisation?
Resolving institutional barriers (lack of recognition of low productivity in agricultural practice as a solution for nature conservation)
Agricultural Lands Act (joint pastures in agricultural areas – commenting on laws, lobbying)
Establishment of cooperatives/pasture communities
Identification of local producers
Marketing plan for Gajna
Marketing in local restaurants
Presentation at fairs
Lectures in the community
Which actions did you take?
Establishment of the Gajna Association of livestock breeders, which is legally entitled to manage the joint pastures, enabling it to receive subsidies from the agricultural system.
Establishment of the Cooperation Council (including farmers, fishermen, hunters, border guards, municipalities, firefighters, Croatian Environment Agency, livestock breeders, Croatian Forests and Croatian Waters) as a means of ensuring cross-sectoral communications at both the local and national levels.
Creation of synergy between the Environment Ministry and Agriculture Ministry on the overlap of agricultural and Natura 2000 lands.
Placement of meat products from indigenous breeds (Slavonian Podolian cattle, Slavonian Black pig) in local restaurants.
Development of educational trails and an info centre.
Which vulnerable groups were included, and how?
Veterans over the age of 55 years (total 16, including 1 woman). The Smiljak Women’s Association – small museum. Two young families have also become included in the past two years.
Did you inform (local) stakeholders of their right to information?
Establishment of the cooperative (local) – meetings every two months
Establishment of the Cooperation Council (local) – inclusion of all sectors

Changes (your contribution to change)

What are the positive changes for nature?
Increase in the flora and fauna, endemic plants and animals, species under Natura 2000 protection
Retaining indigenous breeds (Slavonian Podolian cattle, Slavonian Black pig)
How were negative impacts on nature reduced?
Flood control
Control of invasive species

Replication and recommendations

Which key items were important for replication?
Volunteer work
Motivation of members of the local community to launch the initiative
Communication with various sectors (BED as initiator and facilitator)
Dialogue with land managers (Natura Slavonica Public Institution)
Keep in mind that results will only be visible after 2 years.
What would you recommend to others?
Persistence as the path to success.
Constant communications with all parties.
People are the key (16 families participated to their mutual economic benefit). Without people there is no sustainability, and the project must be their story.
Livestock keeper is a socially unacceptable profession, BED had difficulty hiring a person even amongst 30% unemployment.
Volunteers are an important aspect in project implementation.

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