GRAsslands Conservation Efforts through usage – LIFE19 GIE/IT/000977

Background

The progressive shifting of meat consumption towards breeds associated with intensive farming and the lack of financing the maintenance / restoration of pastures of EU interest, have led to the abandonment of extensive farming practices in the inland and mountainous areas of Lazio, as in Europe in general, on which the survival of semi-natural grassland habitats and of the local breeds, threatened by genetic erosion, depends.

Project description

GRACE aims to promote the conservation of three semi-natural habitats considered priorities by the European Habitats Directive (Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia), Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals of the Thero-Brachypodietea, and Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on siliceous substrates in mountain areas) in three Special Protection Areas of Lazio (Compensorio tolfetano-cerite-manziate, Monti Reatini, and Monti Ausoni-Aurunci), through their extensive grazing with 7 local cattle hardy breeds (Maremma cow, Tiro Pesante Rapido, Tolfetano, Romano della Maremma Laziale horses, and Esperia, Grigia Ciociara and Monticellana goats).

The project intends to build a strong partnership among farmers, biodiversity specialists and consumers at large to achieve the objective in an economically viable way, for the benefit of both the farmers and nature conservation, by ensuring the breeders a market for the sale meat so that the extensive pasture can continue preventing the vegetation banalization and the bush encroachment.

Specific project objectives are:

  • 80% increase in the area covered by the three grassland habitats in good conservation status;
  • 5%increase in population of the target cattle hardy breeds, making their breeding convenient for farmers;
  • 50.000 customers (restaurants, canteens, farmhouses, etc.) using meat produced in the Natura 2000 areas;
  • 10% increase in the quantity of Natura 2000 meat sold;
  • 200 farmers (20 of them as testimonial) and 100.000 consumers reached and made aware of the role of grazing in the conservation of semi-natural pastures;
  • 150 farmers signing the GRACE agreements on biodiversity conservation and monitoring;
  • 3.000 consumers changing behavior in meat consumption.

This will be achieved through:

  • The analysis of good practices in Europe in biodiversity conservation and monitoring activities carried out by farmers;
  • Environmental, socio-economic and market analysis of the 3 target areas;
  • The production of thematic maps that overlap conservation measures of the grasslands of EU interest and pastures grazed or suitable for grazing by hardy breeds;
  • The engagement of the breeders in monitoring habitats with the help of simplified monitoring protocols and an App to collect data;
  • The involvement of the competent authorities in the management of Natura 2000 sites and in the drafting of the rural development plan;
  • The development and implementation of 3 cooperation models on marketing, biodiversity conservation and biodiversity monitoring, involving farmers, biodiversity experts, competent authorities, meat producers / retailers;
  • Facilitating farmers in accessing rural development programme (RDP) funds, introducing conservation measures for EU grasslands in the RDP and including a funding priority for farmers involved in monitoring biodiversity;
  • The introduction of the “Natura in campo” (Nature in the field) brand for meat produced by extensive farms within Natura 2000 sites;
  • developing and enhancing local nature / food trails;
  • The launch of awareness raising activities for the public as consumers and for farmers.

Partners

ARSIAL – Agenzia Regionale per lo Sviluppo e l’Innovazione dell’Agricoltura del Lazio, Comunità Ambiente srl, Università di Roma “La Sapienza” – Dipartimento di Biologia, FIRAB – Fondazione Italiana di Ricerca in Agricoltura Biologica e Biodinamica, Green Factor srl.

Duration

September 2020 – August 2024