The mobile grazing unit of Latvian Fund for Nature arrives in Jūrmala

A mobile grazing unit established as part of GrassLIFE project, will be arriving in Jūrmala today. The unit will be grazing on Priedaine meadow near the railway bridge for four weeks, helping to restore biologically valuable and protected habitat of EU importance: Boreal Baltic coastal meadow.

A herd of eight cows will be grazing on Priedaine meadow in Jūrmala for around a month, accompanied by six calves and Bo the bull, all part of the mobile grazing unit of GrassLIFE project. Several grazing herds currently are working throughout Latvia, with 110 animals helping Latvian Fund for Nature to restore semi-natural grasslands across Latvia. The mobile grazing approach is an innovative method to restoring semi-natural grasslands. This initiative is supported by the EU LIFE programme.

Baiba Strazdiņa, the habitat expert for Latvian Fund for Nature: The vast majority of plants typically seen in coastal grasslands are small. Thus they are only able to grow in meadows which are regularly mowed or grazed, otherwise the small plants are dominated by others, larger in size. If the regular grazing is discontinued, a rapid growth of other species, such as common reed and meadowsweet occurs, therefore overshadowing and slowly overtaking all other plant species. This process can be observed in Priedaine meadow, the east side of which is populated by common reed and sedge growths. Over the last years Priedaine meadow has been mowed regularly, yet, the mowing is not always possible due to conditions of high water level so the common reed and sedge growths have been taking over an increasingly large area of the grassland.

Latvian Fund for Nature started grazing on Priedaine meadow two years ago with a herd of six cows that were later replaced by twelve Konik horses that where brought there from Pilssala grazing areas in Jelgava.

Strazdiņa continues: Grazing is a crucial process leading to establishment of a unique coastal grassland habitat complex. This structure is crucial for the survival of wader birds, amphibians as well as plant species characteristic for this habitat. Considering the conditions of fluctuating water levels, grazing is literally the only way of establishing these conditions – short grass during springtime as well as open shores with brackish water. I hope that, as grazing continues, the expansion of reeds is going to become limited and a larger part of the grassland will again become a habitat for Shingled Gladiolus, Viper’s-Grass and Irish Fleabane.

Latvian Fund for Nature is working with the municipality of Jūrmala in restoring Priedaine meadow. The meadow is accessible to public, and the mobile grazing unit can also be observed by train passengers traveling to and from Jūrmala.

We kindly ask the people of Jūrmala to welcome the mobile grazing unit and to consider a few safety precautions when hiking near the pasture:

  • If a dog is accompanying you, make sure that you hold it on a leash;
  • The pasture territory is enclosed by an electric fence, take that into consideration and be careful, especially with children and pets.
  • Keep a safe distance from the animals in herd, do not pet, feed or agitate them!
  • Treat the fence and other pasture infrastructure with care.





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