Integrated planning tool to ensure viability of grasslands (LIFE Viva Grass)

Marginal agricultural areas in Europe, remote from geographical perspective or not suitable for intensive agriculture, are still hosting high biodiversity of natural and semi-natural grassland that has formed through interaction between various ecosystems and extensive farming practices. However, due to change in rural lifestyle, such regions are experiencing depopulation and land abandonment, which results in overgrowing of the fields by shrubs and consequent loss of grassland biodiversity. This is also the case in the Baltic States where high rate of land abandonment was experienced since beginning of 1990ies.

 With EU accession and availability of agricultural subsidies the share of managed agricultural land has increased. However, measures within the Rural Development Programmes are more tending to promote agricultural production and intensive use of land, instead of continuing extensive, nature-friendly management practices.

This project aims to support maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by grasslands, through encouraging ecosystem-based approach to planning and economically viable grassland management. The project shall demonstrate opportunities for multifunctional use of grasslands as basis for sustainability of rural areas and stimulus for local economies.

Specific objectives:
- To scrutinize synergy potentials & shortcomings in land use & nature conservation policy as well as best practice examples in relation to sustainable grassland management and come up with proposals for improvement of the policy and legal framework;
- To offer integrated, ecosystem based planning solutions based on economically viable grassland management scenarios;
- To encourage implementation of economically viable grassland management models within areas of different natural and socioeconomic contexts;
- To raise awareness and capacity of planners and local stakeholders on economically viable approaches to management of grassland ecosystems and services they provide.

The project aims to increase effectiveness of natural and semi-natural grassland management by contributing to strategic planning processes in delivering an Integrated Planning Tool for sustainable grassland management. The Integrated planning tool will strengthen linkage among social, economic, environmental and agricultural policies.

The project implements business catalytic activities and elaborate business development scenarios that might function as background for investment plans. The project is with some of its practical actions preparing the habitats (by restoring their semi-natural nature after overgrowth and abandoning) for again being semi-natural agricultural lands that require management. If the habitats will be restored, then a farmer or landowner could apply for subsidies for its agricultural production measures.

Please read the project's leaflet in order to get the impression in brief and to find out about the major problem the project issues and the main scope of the project. 

The brochure “Viable grassland management – experience, challenges and opportunities” summarises the information on existing good practice and provides some recommendations for the Baltic States to overcome the challenges related to the maintenance of valuable semi-natural grasslands. 

With the brochure "How do grasslands benefit humans Introduction to grassland ecosystem services" we would like to prove that the perception of grasslands only as an animal fodder provider, or just as a biodiversity pool, is rather narrow-minded. There are many other benefits, which we usually do not notice in our busy lives. Scientists have granted them the name “ecosystem services”. The aim of the brochure is to introduce the reader to the concept of ecosystem services, with particular emphasis on grasslands. 



06/2014 – 11/2018

Project website 

Project partly financed by

EU LIFE+ Programme

Project partners

Lead partner:
Baltic Environmental Forum-Lithuania

Baltic Environmental Forum-Latvia
University of Latvia
Municipality of Cēsis
Farm "Kalnāju ferma"
Baltic Environmental Forum-Estonia
Estonian University of Life Sciences
Municipality of Lumanda 
Farm "Kurese"
Pavilniai and Verkiai Regional Park
Dubysa Regional Park
Silute District Municipality
JSC Hnit-Baltic
Institute for Environmental Solutions

Project number

LIFE13 ENV/LT/000189 

More information

Kristīna Veidemane
National coordinator
Tel. 00371 6735 7551