LIFE Project Cover Photo

Grassland restoration and marsh protectin in Egyek-Pusztakócs

Reference: LIFE04 NAT/HU/000119 | Acronym: EPU(HNP)

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

The Egyek-Pusztakócs area is a mosaic of dry and wet grasslands, marshes and arable land. River regulations and drainage for intensive agriculture in the 19th century resulted in the drying up and fragmentation of much of the area. As a result, the valuable Pannonic loess steppic grasslands have almost completely disappeared.

Although the largest marshes were revitalised after a water retention system was constructed between 1976 and 1997, the restoration of the grasslands had been neglected due to lack of funds. As well as the effects of fragmentation, grasslands and marshes were also threatened by run-off and infiltration of chemicals (fertilisers and pesticides) from arable lands, the damaging effects of goose farms and inadequate management.


OBJECTIVES

The overall objective of the project was the large-scale restoration of grasslands and the protection of marshes in the Egyek-Puszakócs area. In particular, the project aimed to reduce the negative effects of grassland fragmentation and the impact of intensive agriculture on natural grasslands and marshes.

Specifically, the project aimed to:

  • Eliminate goose farms that degrade surrounding grasslands and restore arable land to grasslands;
  • Develop grazing capacity in the area;
  • Increase the diversity of marsh habitats using grazing and fire management;
  • Protect and improve the habitats of Annex I waterfowl and birds of prey.

Grasslands and marshes were expected to reach a favourable conservation status. The successful implementation of the project would also lead to greater public awareness of conservation and of the role of the Natura 2000 network.


RESULTS

The project achieved all its aims in spite of unsolved problems regarding land purchase and land swapping. Moreover, several targets were even exceeded:

  • Two ecological corridors were established by purchasing 11 ha arable land, restoring grasslands on 42 ha arable land and by extensive cultivation of 31 ha arable land;
  • Buffer zones were established in critical areas by restoring grasslands on 364 ha arable land on 135 parcels adjacent to marshes;
  • Grassland was restored on an additional 341 ha arable lands, which reduced the proportion of arable land within the protected area from 32% to 14%;
  • The restoration of two Natura 2000 priority habitat types was carried out on 747 ha, of which 93 ha was loess steppic grasslands (habitat 6250) and 654 ha was alkali steppe grasslands (habitat 1530);
  • 59 ha of arable land were purchased for grassland restoration;
  • Two goose farms were eliminated from alkali steppes by purchasing 306 ha grasslands and by transforming the area to sheep- or cattle-grazing;
  • A grazing scheme was established, involving 18 farmers/farming companies on 2580 ha grasslands, which includes 820 ha grasslands not grazed before the project and newly restored grasslands depending on their conservation status;
  • Grazing on 400 ha was applied on four marshes and fire management was carried out on a 120 ha marsh in order to open up homogeneous reeds.
  • 148 ha arable lands were cultivated extensively (without the use of chemicals) to enhance populations of small mammals and thus strengthen the food base for Annex I bird species.

In short, the project significantly contributed to the improvement of the conservation status of marshes and Pannonic grasslands in the Egyek-Pusztakócs region in Hungary.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).The project achieved all its aims in spite of unsolved problems regarding land purchase and land swapping. Moreover, several targets were even exceeded:
  • Two ecological corridors were established by purchasing 11 ha arable land, restoring grasslands on 42 ha arable land and by extensive cultivation of 31 ha arable land;
  • Buffer zones were established in critical areas by restoring grasslands on 364 ha arable land on 135 parcels adjacent to marshes;
  • Grassland was restored on an additional 341 ha arable lands, which reduced the proportion of arable land within the protected area from 32% to 14%;
  • The restoration of two Natura 2000 priority habitat types was carried out on 747 ha, of which 93 ha was loess steppic grasslands (habitat 6250) and 654 ha was alkali steppe grasslands (habitat 1530);
  • 59 ha of arable land were purchased for grassland restoration;
  • Two goose farms were eliminated from alkali steppes by purchasing 306 ha grasslands and by transforming the area to sheep- or cattle-grazing;
  • A grazing scheme was established, involving 18 farmers/farming companies on 2580 ha grasslands, which includes 820 ha grasslands not grazed before the project and newly restored grasslands depending on their conservation status;
  • Grazing on 400 ha was applied on four marshes and fire management was carried out on a 120 ha marsh in order to open up homogeneous reeds.
  • 148 ha arable lands were cultivated extensively (without the use of chemicals) to enhance populations of small mammals and thus strengthen the food base for Annex I bird species.

In short, the project significantly contributed to the improvement of the conservation status of marshes and Pannonic grasslands in the Egyek-Pusztakócs region in Hungary.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).

ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


Reference: LIFE04 NAT/HU/000119
Acronym: EPU(HNP)
Start Date: 01/09/2004
End Date: 31/12/2008
Total Eligible Budget: 1,040,000 €
EU Contribution: 700,302 €
Project Location:

CONTACT DETAILS


Coordinating Beneficiary: Hortobágy National Park Directorate
Legal Status: PUBLIC
Address: Sumen u. 2, 4024, Debrecen, Hungary Magyarország
Contact Person:
Email:
Website: Visit Website


LIFE Project Map

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

THEMES

  • Grasslands

KEYWORDS

  • ecological assessment
  • environmental impact of agriculture
  • grassland ecosystem
  • grazing
  • landscape conservation policy
  • reforestation
  • renaturation
  • wetlands ecosystem
  • site rehabilitation
  • public awareness campaign
  • integrated management
  • pollution prevention
  • agricultural pollution
  • forest management
  • land restoration
  • land purchase
  • restoration measure
  • water resources management
  • diffuse pollution
  • conflicting use
  • management contract
  • drainage system

TARGET EU LEGISLATION

  • Regulation 1257/1999 - Support for rural development from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) (17.05.1999)
  • COM(2001)162 -"Biodiversity Action Plan for the conservation of natural resources (vol. I & II)" (27.03.2001)
  • COM(98)42 -"Communication on a European Community Biodiversity Strategy" (05.02.1998)
  • COM(95) 189 - "Communication on the judicious use and conservation of wetlands" (12.12.1995)
  • Decision 93/626 - Conclusion of the Convention on Biological Diversity (25.10.1993)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)

TARGET HABITAT TYPES

  • 1530 - Pannonic salt steppes and salt marshes
  • 6250 - Pannonic loess steppic grasslands

SPECIES

  • None or non applicable

NATURA 2000 SITES

Type Code Name
SPA HUHN10002 Hortobágy

BENEFICIARIES

Name Type
Hortobágy National Park Directorate Coordinator
Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology-University of Debrecen, Hungary Participant