Last update: 17.05.2019

Experience exchange trip to grazing areas in Vidzeme

On May 30-31 Dviete LIFE+ project group and inhabitants of Bebrene parish visited the areas of two previously implemented LIFE projects in Vidzeme, where grassland management activities takes place, similar to those, implemented in Dviete floodplain.

On May 30 participants of the trip visited the farm „Sopuļi” in Pededze floodplain, managed by Gunārs Ciglis, where grasslands were restored within the project LIFE04NAT/LV/000198 „Restoration of Latvian Floodplains for EU priority species and habitats”, implemented by Latvian Fund for Nature, and now 270 ha of grasslands are fenced for pasturing.

74 ‘Highlander’ cattle and 53 ‘Konik’ horses are grazing here. G. Ciglis mentioned, that bushes can’t regenerate, if grasslands are under the water during spring floods in several consecutive years. The owner of the farm told about his experience in renovation of fences, which are destroyed by floods every spring, as well as formal requirements in rural management, not always corresponding to nature protection needs. As an example, due to obligatory mowing of pastures, animals lack natural food in autumn, and they have to be additionally fed for much longer time period.

After the lunch participants visited deer park on the other bank of Pededze river in the farm „Silmalas”. Area of the deer park is large enough (150 ha) not to overgraze the grasslands. Participants of the trip saw, that the grass is long enough for meadow birds. Also voices of several corncrakes where heard from the inside of fenced ground.

On the second day participants visited three pilot areas of grassland management, arranged within the project LIFE03NAT/LV/000082 „Protection and management of the Northern Gauja valley”, implemented by Latvian Fund for Nature, where bushes were cut during the LIFE project and breeding of meat cattle initiated to maintain restored grasslands. The first was the farm „Lejas Rudzīši – Zvejnieki” in Gaujiena parish, managed by Andris Jegorovs, where the owner exchanged experience on management of the herd, discrepancies between rural development requirements and nature protection needs. Participants of the trip went for a walk within the grasslands and visited winter shelter for the cattle. There are about 60 ha of biologically valuable grasslands in the farm, pasture ground covers 39 ha, where about 100 meat cattle graze. A. Jegorovs told about methods of animal catching, processing and use of manure, realization of meat.

Afterwards participants went to the farm „Krastiņi” of Valka parish, where the owner Tālis Lārmanis told about management of his cattle herd. 38 cattle (a bull, 25 cows and 12 calves) are grazing in the area of about 70 ha in „Krastiņi”, young calves are bred for export. Participants saw large oaks, cleared from surrounding bushes and trees, inhabited by endangered species - hermit beetle. T. Lārmanis exchanged experience on maintenance of fences, upgrading of animal feeding site, selection of cattle breeds.

In the afternoon participants visited farm „Vekši” in Valka parish, where grazing of grasslands have continued to develop since the Northern Gauja LIFE project and have expanded within the projects „DEMO farm” and „SNOWBAL”, also implemented by Latvian Fund for Nature. The owners of the farm Sanita and Jānis Āboliņi told about co-existence with yearly floods, upgrading of cattle shelter and feeding site. About 8 ha of grasslands are restored there. 60 cattle are grazing in about 89 ha of pasture grounds in „Vekši” farm, hence during last five years there was no need to cut bushes repeatedly. Hay for surplus feeding of animals in winter is gathered outside the grazing area.

Participants of the trip stopped for a while also in several other sites in Northern Gauja area - at „Tilikas” and „Marsi”, enjoying nature landscapes, characteristic for Northern Gauja valley.

Ilze Priedniece