The Oreka Mendian project wins the Natura2000 Awards!

The Oreka Mendian project wins the Natura2000 Awards!

Our LIFE Oreka Mendian project, coordinated by our member of the HAZI Foundation, was awarded a prize at the Natura2000 Awards organised by the European Commission on 29 May 2024.   

This award in the cross-border cooperation category highlights the impact that the project has had on mountain grasslands, as well as the strength of cooperation between two Member States in cross-border projects to preserve biodiversity.   

It also recognises the essential ecosystem services provided by mountain grasslands, one of the most widespread mountain habitats, representing 15.9% of the EU’s surface area. 

Euromontana is delighted that its project has been rewarded and that it has contributed to better management and promotion of pastoralism thanks to excellent collaboration with its members and public and environmental organisations in the Basque Country. 

1,670 hectares of mountain grassland restored 

The aim of the project was to develop a joint management strategy for mountain pastures in 15 Natura 2000 sites in Euskadi and Iparralde (Basque Country), which are particularly vulnerable to degradation caused by changes in pasture management, climate change and tourism. Mountain grasslands are one of the most threatened habitats in Europe.   

Through the development of grazing management plans that combine biodiversity conservation with consideration for the socio-economic uses of the land, Oreka Mendian has helped to strike a fundamental balance for the users of these areas.   

Various targeted objectives have helped to restore grazing areas to a favourable state, such as establishing management criteria for habitats and species, eradicating invasive flora, testing management tools and achieving a balance between livestock and forestry use in order to limit soil erosion.   

As a result, more than 1,670 hectares of mountain grasslands in 15 Natura 2000 sites have been restored. Another example is the protection of wetlands and peat bogs in meadows by installing permeable barriers to prevent trampling by large livestock. 

In addition to the direct impact on the project areas, Oreka Mendian has raised awareness and disseminated good practice that can be replicated in other areas. Indeed, the project’s stakeholders have paid particular attention to monitoring and controlling the actions developed in order to ensure their ecological effects on the target areas, and to derive policy recommendations and a booklet of good practice.