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




100 000€


4 years


Brodsko Ecological Society (BED)


Slavonija, Gajna (Slavonia-Prisava floodplain pasture)


Protection level

Natura 2000

Project example
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.


Overgrowth of pastures
Loss of indigenous animal breeds
Flood control
Cultural heritage
Retaining the local population
Sustainable livestock breeding
Joint management of pastures
Local products


Pre-requisites 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


Initial idea
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
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.
Vulnerable groups involvement
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.
Rights to information
Establishment of the cooperative (local) – meetings every two months
Establishment of the Cooperation Council (local) – inclusion of all sectors


Positive effects on environment
Increase in the flora and fauna, endemic plants and animals, species under Natura 2000 protection
Retaining indigenous breeds (Slavonian Podolian cattle, Slavonian Black pig)
Flood control
Control of invasive species

Replication and recommendations

Essential things to 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.
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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