EPU(HNP) - Grassland restoration and marsh protectin in Egyek-Pusztakócs

LIFE04 NAT/HU/000119

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Szabolcs LENGYEL
Tel: +36 52 512 900
Fax: +36 52 512 941
Email: szabolcslengyel@yahoo.com

Project description:


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.


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.


    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).


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Grasslands


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

Target EU Legislation

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

Target Habitat types

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

Natura 2000 sites

SPA HUHN10002 Hortobágy



Coordinator Hortobágy National Park Directorate
Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description The Hortobágy National Park (HNP) Directorate manages the natural habitats of the Hortobágy National Park in the largest grassland of Central Europe, four landscape protection areas and 20 smaller independent protection areas. These lie in Hajdú-Bihar-, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok-, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg counties, plus the Tisza lake in Heves County. As the nature conservation manager of these sites, which total 1 500 km², the Hortobágy National Park Directorate evaluates, preserves, manages, restores and improves the sites' natural values and status. As an authority for its region, it performs registration, preventive, design and regulatory tasks.
Partners Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology-University of Debrecen, Hungary


Project reference LIFE04 NAT/HU/000119
Duration 01-SEP-2004 to 31-DEC -2008
Total budget 1,040,000.00 €
EU contribution 700,302.00 €
Project location Associated Hungary (H)(Hungary Magyarország)


Read more:

Brochure "Gyepterületek rekonstrukciója és mocsarak védelme Egyek–Pusztakócson" (9.8 MB)
Brochure "Grassland restoration and marsh protection in Egyek–Pusztakócs" (9.5 MB)
Leaflet Project's brochure (2.6 MB)
Leaflet Project's brochure (2.5 MB)
Project web site Project's website
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Management plan "Master Plan for the Long-term Rehabilitation Prog ...
Video link "A Vókonyai puszták újjáéledése" (38')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version