Since 2007, farmers from all over Austria have been observing the development of plants and animals on their meadows. The project motto "We take care of our meadows!" stands for the annual counting and documentation of indicator species as well as for the willingness to care for and maintain extensive grassland.
Since 2013, alpine pasture farmers can also participate in the biodiversity monitoring. On the alpine pasture, visitors and guests are also motivated to observe the biodiversity. The annual observation of the animals and plants changes the way the farmers look at their meadow and a process of closer inspection is set in motion. Teaching units in schools on topics such as "meadow scent and meadow ripeness" should appeal to future land managers and inspire them for biodiversity.
Every year, around 700 farmers and students from 14 agricultural and forestry specialized schools visit the observation plots, count and document plant and animal species that are typical for meadows.
The aim is to inspire the participants for the special plants and animals in the meadow and to better understand the relationship between cultivation and the occurrence of e.g. orchids, knight bugs or grasshoppers by observing and counting selected indicator species. Through participation in the project and regular, conscientious observation, the farmers themselves are trained to become experts of their own meadow. In addition, the significance of management requirements and subsidies is made clear.
The observations and reports will be used for statistical analysis to provide information on the relationship between biodiversity and the management of extensive grassland. Evaluations of the reported observations can show which type of management is well suited for the considered meadow type and therefore leads to safe stocks of the observed indicator species. As a consequence, management restrictions can be better evaluated.
All farmers and alpine pasture farmers with extensive meadows and pastures (preferably farms participating in the ÖPUL nature conservation measure "WF" (valuable areas)) can participate. The first step is a training by an ecologist. At this point it is agreed which indicator species are to be observed and counted annually. The participants then annually document the indicator species and the management of the meadow and enter the data on the online platform.
„This year I deliberately left a patch of rambling bellflowers so that they could sow seeds. Now I am already curious whether they will be more next year!“
„This project is going places. My son wanted to reforest our rough pasture some time ago, because the fodder is worth nothing and mowing takes a lot of time. Since your expert showed him that there are a lot of rare animals and plants living in it, he hasn't said anything about it. He even helps me counting now.“
„What makes me particularly happy is that for once it is not about control or money, but about seeing and appreciating the beautiful aspects of our work.“
Information on participation:
Österreichisches Kuratorium für Landtechnik und Landentwicklung (ÖKL)
1040 Wien, Austria
Tel: +43 (0)1/5051891-17
A - 9020 Klagenfurt
Tel: +43 (0) 463-516614