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Alpine Grassland Monitoring and Assessment Workshop

Dates: 

20 - 22 May 2015

Location: Feltrina Mountain Community, Feltre (BL), Veneto Region, Italy

 

Workshop results

This three-day workshop, organised and hosted by the Veneto Region, sought to provide elements to stimulate an advance in the field of conservation status assessment of Alpine Grasslands as a means to inform and help implement better conservation measures. This issue had been identified as the priority issue to address for the conservation of Alpine Grasslands during the Alpine Seminar (Graz, November 2013).

The workshop was well attended with 42 participants from 7 Alpine countries (Croatia, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Spain and Sweden) plus Belgium (European Commission), Denmark (EEA), the Czech Republic (mountain National park Krknose), The Netherlands (contractor) and the UK (Wild Europe Initiative).

Together the participants represented a wide range of stakeholder groups having an interest in improving the process of assessing the conservation status of Alpine grasslands: site managers, scientific botanical experts, environment consultants, local and regional planners, local and regional authorities, national environment and nature protection agencies and ministries and EU institutions (European Commission, European Environmental Agency and European Topic Centre for Biological Diversity).

After informative presentations, active discussions in breakout groups and stimulating field visits, the participants agreed on a roadmap to develop a joint approach for Alpine grassland conservation status assessment as a significant contribution to better informed conservation objectives and management practices and a more harmonised reporting at EU level.

Please read the Full Workshop reportpdf(1.23 Mb) Choose translations of the previous link  .

Final workshop programmepdf(425 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

Presentations:

 

Background

During the Alpine Seminar in Graz, Austria (25-26 November 2013) the participants in the Grassland Working Group identified the lack of clarity surrounding the definition of favourable reference values, the assessment of favourable conservation status and the monitoring protocols to inform FRV and FCS assessment as major barriers to a sound reporting. Moreover this lack of clarity significantly hampers the conservation planning, management and decision making for these threatened mountain grassland habitat.

The grasslands of the whole Alpine region are especially threatened by changing management practices which may be abandonment as well as intensification (e.g. hyper-fertilization). An important amount of floristic biodiversity is therefore at risk and the nutrient-poor grasslands are among the most endangered habitats. A proper assessment and monitoring of their conservation status will contribute to a better management of Natura 2000 sites as the managers will be able to direct their efforts where they are really needed. This will also help to know the results of undertaken measures. For a long-term conservation of this kind of habitats financial resources will be needed in order to compensate the farmers for the loss of competitiveness due to Natura 2000 prescriptions. Very helpful would also be to find a way to give a higher value to the grass/hay produced on nutrient-poor grasslands.

Grassland habitats included in the annexes of the Habitats Directive occur in the Alps and have therefore been included in the Natura 2000 network. Nonetheless, it is not always clear, what are the minimum requirements for grassland to be considered Natura 2000 habitat, as the species mentioned in the interpretation manual does not seem to really match well with the Alpine situation. Therefore significant differences in the application of the habitat definition between MS can be observed. The same happens with the assessment of the conservation status of the grassland habitats. A harmonization of approaches is needed in order to be able to get an idea of the real situation inside the biogeographical region.

It was decided to address this issue by working towards some common guidelines to be developed in successive phases:

1. Analysis of the current situation of Alpine grassland conservation status assessment based on the latest Article 17 reporting. This should highlight the differences and commonalities between neighbouring countries and focus especially on the grassland habitats selected for priority consideration in the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process.

2. Workshop to discuss the results of the analysis and compare definitions of FRV and assessment of FCS in neighbouring countries in order to draw conclusions about commonalities and differences in approaches.

3. Determine possible common approaches to be applied by Alpine grassland assessment experts involved in the future Article 17 reporting, in order to achieve better comparable results. These approaches might be published in the form of a guidance handbook.

Workshop Content

This workshop is meant to contribute to the development of an agreed approach to the above mentioned themes at a biogeographical region level, with a focus on the Alps.

  • Current assessment of conservation of grasslands in the Alpine Arc: is there evidence for highly different assessments?
  • Determining as much as possible homogeneous criteria to define the favourable reference values (FRV) for Alpine grasslands
  • Improving the assessment of conservation status (FCS as well as lower conservation status values) of Alpine grasslands considering indicators of ecological quality as well as other aspects, for example landscape
  • What field data and monitoring schemes are required for FRV and FCS?
  • Field work: assessment of the requirements of Natura 2000 grassland habitats and of their conservation status focusing the example of nutrient-poor grasslands with Narcissus radiflorus by the mean of some phytosociological relevés, discussion of the proposed criteria and their applicability in a concrete field situation, as well as the best approach for a monitoring of conservation status.

Target Audience

The target audience for this event consist mainly of biologists, ecologists and other experts involved in the process of assessing the conservation status of Alpine grassland habitats and species. These include experts working in the field, i.e. setting up and implementing monitoring schemes and experts working in the office, collecting the field data to write the compound reports. Local administrators of the Natura 2000 network as well as some representatives of farmers are also invited.

 

More information:natura2000platform@ecnc.org