Project LIFE to alvars was chosen as a winner of 2018 Natura 2000 Award in the Socio-economic benefits category.
Project LIFE to alvars (LIFE13 NAT/EE/000082) started in 1.09.2014 and project duration is 5 years. This project aims to restore 2500 hectares of alvar grasslands in Estonia, designated to the European Union’s Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) code 6280* (Nordic alvar and precambrian calcareous flatrocks). Alvar grasslands are semi-natural grasslands with thin lime-rich soil on a limestone bedrock. One third of all the alvar grasslands in Europe are situated in Estonia. However, in 2013 only around 2000 hectares i.e less than 30% of Estonian alvar grasslands are under annual management which is necessary for long-term persistence of this habitat type. Unmanaged sites have been heavily overgrown with shrubs (mostly juniper Juniperus communis) and trees (mostly Scots pine Pinus sylvestris). In order to maintain the ecological connectivity and biodiversity of the alvar grassland habitat type in Estonia, a minimum of 7500 hectares of habitat area needs to be under annual grazing, as also targeted in Estonian Nature Conservation Development Plan until 2020. Objective of this project is to restore the most valuable, but currently overgrown alvar areas on 2500 hectares and to create a possibility for local farmers to manage these areas after the restoration. This project involves alvar grasslands situated on both private and public lands, and emphasize is on a thorough involvement of private land-owners.
Koguva alvar restored in the LIFE to alvars project was previously owergrown with junipers, pine trees and leafy shrubs. Restoration was carried out in 2014-2015. By 2016 grazing season the area is covered with species rich grassland vegetation. This indicates that the seedbank of the grassland species is still current on the overgrown areas.
To target these issues the objectives of the project are:
1. Restoration of 2500 ha of alvar grasslands and introduction of effective large-scale restoration methods.
2. Creating necessary infrastructure for continuous management of the restored 2500 ha of alvar grasslands.
3. Direct large-scale involvement of private land owners (at least 300 cadastral units of land), introduction of values of alvar grassland habitat type to all land-owners who have alvar grasslands on their property (additional 400 cadastral units of land), dissemination to the local community (at least 300 people) and Estonian general public (ca 400 000 people), raising awareness of visitors (at least 10 000 people) and farmers/agricultural companies taking part of the project (at least 40 people).
4. Assessing the success of the restoration through scientific monitoring and assessment of the socioeconomic
Project is carried out on 25 sites. 12 project sites are on Saaremaal island, 6 on Hiiumaa island, 5 on Muhu island, 1 in Pärnumaa and 1 in Läänemaa.
To brows the project areas and activities in more detail have a look on the interactive map http://life.envir.ee/kaart-tegevused-projektialadel-map-actions-project-...