New report highlights the added value of grassland products

Grasslands are an essential part of Europe’s landscape and heritage. They host very rich biodiversity and provide ecosystem services that enhance the environment and human well-being. However, changes in land management practices and demographics has led to decline of grasslands. A new Report by the Latvian Fund for Nature examines how the management of grasslands in Northern Europe’s Boreal biogeographical region can be made more sustainable, highlighting the additionality of grassland products.

The role of Europe’s semi-natural grasslands is significant: they host the majority of EU farmland carbon, provide water catchment services on farmland, serve as habitat for crop pollinators, regulate nutrients and reduce soil erosion. These grasslands are a source of agricultural goods and they contribute to culture, social identity, tourism and more. However, inappropriate management and lack of differentiation of the high added value of grassland products in the market have led to an alarming decline in Europe’s semi-natural grasslands.

This study consists of literature review, case studies, methodology and framework for testing the additionality of grassland products. It identifies ways to assess the added value of grassland products and promote them. The report proves that there is an excellent opportunity to develop production, entrepreneurship and marketing measures with emphasis on the values inherent to semi-natural grassland products in all five product categories assessed in this report – meat, dairy, honey and grass as well as wild medical plants.

One of the products highlighted by the report is meat – the higher nutritional profile of beef derived from grass-fed cattle is well-known, especially in regard to the type and percentages of fatty acids. The report provides evidence for promoting grassland meat in the market and for fine-tuning the marketing instruments to differentiate meat, based on the percentage of semi-natural grass in the diet, following the principle: ‘less but better’.

“The report is targeted at owners of semi-natural grasslands, producers and food industry and with it we hope to build a strong foundation for development of a new generation of grassland products in Latvia and neighbouring countries” said Inga Račinska, GrassLIFE project manager.

Report author is Traci Birge, DSc. Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Agricultural Sciences and HELSUS Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, University of Helsinki, Finland.

Read the full report here: Grasslands-Biodiversity-and-Business_GrassLIFE report

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