The European Union has set an objective to preserve valuable, rare and threatened species and habitats of Europe. For that purpose network of Natura 2000 sites has been created. The nature conservation activities in these sites are supported by the EU Life+ Nature programme. This program also supports the implementation of project URBANCOWS.

The overall goal of the project is to improve the favourable conservation status of the coastal meadow and lagoon habitats in Pärnu town as well as the species characteristic to this habitat complex. It is achieved by sustaining management on Pärnu coastal meadow and lagoon habitat complex and raising the awareness of the local community as well as the visitors of Pärnu about the nature values of the area.

Pärnu coastal meadow

Photo: Mati Kose

Boreal coastal meadows are habitat type listed as priority habitats under Annex 1 of EU Habitats Directive. Pärnu coastal meadow complex, which consists of boreal coastal meadows, coastal lagoons and dunes, even when located inside urban environment, is itself spread over more than 250 ha (size of the protected area, which includes also buffers is 371,4 ha).

The coastal meadows of Pärnu town have been overgrown with reed after the grazing stopped there in 1970-1980’s. Reed cutting and mowing that has been done during past ten years has not been successful, because in the areas where it has been done, reed is still dominant. Evidently it is necessary to reintroduce grazing, which though is challenging in the urban environment. Pärnu is the most famous resort of Estonia, with a public beach that is regularly used by more than 10 000 people a day during summer season. The coastal meadows are located very close to the public beach as well as the centre of the resort. Using cattle for managing coastal meadows in such urban environment is not impossible, but needs investments that have so far not been available.

The aim of the project is to establish necessary infrastructure (steady fences, shelters etc) for grazing in the urban environment and prepare the area for future management, by restoring the habitat complex of coastal meadow and lagoons.

LIFE+ Nature