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2016-09-21
Towards biodiversity in Latvian grasslands
During past months much has changed in approach towards conservation of biodiversity in biologically valuable grasslands of Latvia. Thanks to LIFE program funded "NAT-PROGRAMME" project actions, it had led to a new level of synergy between policy makers and nature experts - practical management researchers.
We must admit that after twelve years of implementation, the effectiveness of subsidy system for biologically valuable grassland maintenance is still under debate. Recently, researchers have proposed result-oriented schemes to improve the efficiency of biodiversity policies.
 
Result oriented approach was driving force for management guidelines of grassland habitats, elaborated by "NAT-PROGRAMME" project. These guidelines now are accepted by the Ministry of Agriculture as an official handbook for all farmers and land managers in the country, to receive support payments according to Rural Development Program of Latvia.
It took several years of research and negotiation dialogue beneath, but last round had happened this summer, when as a part of "NAT-PROGRAMME" project actions, several seminars and training workshops were held. These events were attended by experts of grassland habitats, academic staff and officials from Latvian Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Support Service and Rural Advisory and Training Centre aiming to harmonize views of parties involved on management guidelines in order to use them in the training program for landowners and farmers who manage biologically valuable grasslands. 
Such training program which starts from next year will be must have the course for those farmers who are going to claim EU support payments for the maintenance of biodiversity in grasslands. Its become obvious, that without a proper understanding of conservation goals, grassland management becomes an action-oriented activity, which conforms subsidy payment system but is not effective enough to maintain favourable biodiversity level in grasslands. 
From nature protection point of view, this policy attitude change is the step towards success to gain more conservancy of biodiversity in grasslands. Probably its small step, but success is not a big step in the future, success is small step taken right now.