„Grazing is amazing“

Project LIFE SUB-PANNONIC focuses on restoration of rare dry grassland ecosystems which are currently threatened by succession and invasive plant species due to the abandonement of traditional grazing and management of these localitites. The restoration of the rare habitats is done with the help of four-legged mowers – sustainable management through grazing animals by local farmars. On the 22 localities across Slovakia, from the Small Carpathians all to way to Zemplín on the east and on 7 localities in Moravia the project improves the status of rare habitats and the protection status of population of floral species of European Importance: Himantoglossum caprinum, Onosma tornensis and Artemisia pancicii.

The project partners are the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic and for localities in Moravia ČSOPK – ONYX.

We thank the administration of NP Slovenský Kras, CHKO Latorica, CHKO Cerova vrchovina, CHKO Ponitrie, CHKO Biele Karpaty, CHKO Malé Karpaty, CHKO Dunajské luhy, AOPK – CHKO Pálava and local farmers for their help with the implementation of the project.

Goats grazing on Velky Kopec helped the return of a rare orchid

And at this time of the year the effort of the brave farmers and volunteers from the whole of Slovakia brought a reward – thanks to their help with protecting nature a rare orchid - Green winged orchid (Orchis morio) – is blooming on “Velky Kopec”.

Restoration of rare Tarbucka habitats

Tarbucka hill stretches over the villages Streda nad Bodrogom, Veľký Kamenec and Malý Kamenec. Thanks to its specific subsoil and suitable microclimatic conditions, Tarbucka hosts rare drought and thermophilic herbaceous vegetation and provides a home for many protected species of plants and animals. Thanks to these natural values it has been declared a Territory of European Importance.

Restoration of pastures on Zádielská plain

The species richness of our country is linked to non-forest habitats – they include thermophilic and xerophilous meadows and pastures, which we can admire in Slovenský Kras. These habitats depend on traditional management – extensive grazing and mowing. Unfortunately, most cities have not been farming traditionally for over 30 years. As a result, pastures are overgrown with aerial trees and expansive grasses.

Restoration of grazing at Veľký Kopec

Together we a local stakeholder Arnold Docs we started grazing at SCI Veľký Kopec in eastern Slovakia. The grazing will help restore rare steppe habitats including oak pastures which are full of life especially the insect and floral type.

Restoration of pastures at Silicka planina

It is the first year of project running and we already succeeded in restoring the rare dry grassland habitats. One of the first project localitites which was restored through grazing in Fabiánka, part of the biggest karst plain in Slovakia – the Silicka plain.

Project name: Conservation of subpannonic dry grassland habitats and species
Project acronym: LIFE SUB-PANNONIC

Project scheme: LIFE, Nature and Biodiversity

The project is implemented in Slovakia and Czech Republic.

Main objective: The main objective of the project is to improve the conservation status of 3 priority habitats of European importance and 3 species of European importance (of which 2 are priority) in 22 localities of the NATURA 2000 network in Slovakia and in 7 localities in the territory of Moravia (Czech Republic). At current state, the project sites are threatened by an overgrowth of aerial trees and expansive grasses and the spread of non-native species due to the abandonment of traditional management. Populations of target species are small and fragmented.

With appropriate management measures, the project will significantly contribute to the construction of the NATURA 2000 network in Slovakia, to the improvement of its functionality and the preservation of the natural heritage of the regions of Slovakia. In addition to improving the condition of the habitats in question, the aim of the project is to ensure sustainable care for the restored areas and to restore ecosystem services. A substantial part of the project activities will be implemented in cooperation with local farmers and communities, which will bring significant socio-economic benefits and contribute to job creation in the regions.


Specific Targets:

1. For *Onosma tornensis, it will cover all sites of its occurence in Slovakia within the NATURA 2000 network, representing cca 50% of the total SK/HU population of this endemic species.
2. For endemic species *Artemisia pancicii, 1 of cca 10 remaining sites worldwide will be covered.

3. Himantoglossum caprinum – the species will be conserved on northernmost edge of its overall distribution range. The respective populations are very endangered presently, with only a few indivduals left. The covered sites hold more than 80% of the overall SR population of this rare species.
4. *6240 – the project will cover and restore the core of habitats occurence in Slovakia and one of the most important sites in CR.
5. *6250 – some of the most important sites with this habitat type in Czech Republic will be restored.

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Himantoglossum caprinum


Onosma tornensis


Artemisia pancicii

LIFE Subpannonic project area


A. Preparatory actions, elaboration of management plans and/or of action plans

A1 Expert study on restoration management of grassland habitats
A2 Expert study on restoration of target habitats by reintroduction of grazing
A3 Expet study on optimal management of target species

B. Purchase/lease of land and/or compensation payments for use rights

B1 Land purchase and long-term lease of land

C. Conservation actions

C1 Restoration management of grassland habitats
C2 Restoration of grassland habitats by reintroduction of grazing
C3 Specific restoration measures for target species

D. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

D1 Monitoring of project impact on target species and habitats
D2 LIFE performance indicators monitoring
D3 Assessment of project impact on ecosystem services
D4 Assessment of projects socio-economic impacts and impact of dissemination actions

E. Public awareness and dissemination of results

E1 Awareness raising – public

E2 Awareness raising – key stakeholders
E3 Replication toolkit
E4 Increasing socio-economic benefits
E5 Networking and policies

F. Project management

F1 Project management and reporting
F2 Project bookkeeping, financial management and auditing
F3 After-LIFE plan

State 31/10/2020

A. Preparation activities 

A1 Expert study on restoration management of grassland habitats
A2 Expert study on restoration of target habitats by reintroduction of grazing
A3 Expert study on optimal management of target species

Expert studies are complete and help us to restore habitats and species populations.

C. Concrete conservation actions

C1 Restoration management of grassland habitats

After second winter we have restored 160 ha of target habitats in lower Zemplín (Veľký kopec above Kráľovský Chlmec and Tarbucka near Streda nad Bodrogom), in Slovenský Kras (in Silická plain – SCI Fabiánka, in NR Zemné hradisko and in Zádielska plain and Jasovská plain), in Moravia (SCI Bílý kopec near Čejc, Čejkovické Špidláky, Hochberk, Kamenný vrch near Kurdějova and Přední kout), in Tematínske vrchy, near Bratislava (SCI Biskupické luhy) and above Hlohovec (SCI Sedliská). During the nesting season, we focus on another type of activity – primarily the removal of invasive species, which is the most effective during the vegetation time.

C2 Restoration of grassland habitats by reintroduction of grazing

In most localities after C1 activities, it is necessary to introduce grazing immediately, otherwise, the removed air raids would begin to rejuvenate. Cows, sheep or goats cope very well with young sprouts and help restore habitats beyond recognition. Therefore we help farmers to adjust the pastures according to the needs of grazed animals (clean for more sensitive hooves of cows, fence as needed or provide shade and water for the comfort of our helpers). In the 2019 season, we started grazing on Veľký Kopec above Kráľovský Chlmec and in several localities in Slovenský Kras. Since the spring of 2020, in cooperation with a local farmer, we have started to graze Tarbucka in lower Zemplín, which has been abandoned for many years. In Slovenský Kras, we are expanding the until now overgrown and abandoned pastures on plains Silická, Plešivská, Jasovská and Zádielská as well as the NR Zemné hradisko. Thanks to the project, we are also started grazing the long time abandoned Sedliská above Hlohovec. In the 2020 season, we were grazing on more than 190 ha of project sites (including sites in the Czech Republic).

In Czech Republic, grazing was restored in project sites: SCIs Bílý kopec u Čejče, Čejkovické Špidláky, Hochberk, Kamenný vrch u Kurdějova, Přední kopaniny and Přední kout.

Negotiations with local farmers and stakeholders are underway in SCI´s Dechtárske vinice, Drieňové, Kečovské škrapy, Ladmovské vápence a Pieskovcové chrbty.

C3 Specific restoration measures for target species

Target species can be very sensitive to intervention. As recommended by the Expert study, restoration measures for Himantoglossum caprinum were started at ÚEV Zobor and Artemisia pancicii at the Čejkovické špidláky site (Czech Republic).

D. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

Monitoring of the impact of the project actions on target species and habitats, ecosystem services or assessing socio-economic impacts is an essential part of the projects. The second monitoring season runs with the help of the best experts.

E. Public awareness and dissemination of results

Since the start of the project, several media outputs have been published. One is, for example, this report in regional television MA7, where the reporters came to see how the restoration of grazing above Kráľovský Chlmec is planned. And another, where the grazing has already started. The project and its activities were also mentioned in the V4 news of television M1, on radio Slovenský rozhlas, on TV Slovenská televízia, in daily journal Új szó or on portal bumm.sk. , enviroportal.sk, dobrenoviny.sk, čas.sk, teraz.sk, sme.sk, obecne-noviny.sk, on web page Ministry of the Environment (SR) and so on.

Grazing on Tarbucka delighted readers of Korzár, Nový Čas and more periodicals.

As part of the project, we have installed the 1st educational panel (together with bench on Veľký kopec above Kráľovský Chlmec) and made 8 excursions for the public.

One of the most important parts of the project is raising awareness of stakeholders. We do this daily when we meet with local farmers, breeders, representatives of urbariats, land communities or local governments.

We try to move the best practice of the project further and help with replication and transfer to political documents. In this way, we have already managed to participate in the novelisation of Nature and Landscape Protection law. As part of the creation of a new agricultural policy, we are pushing for subsidies to farmers to be better redistributed and to support the long-term nature-friendly management of grassland-herbaceous habitats. We are looking forward to the fact that the project activities are helping our farmers, and that, thanks to this good cooperation, the Natura 2000 has also been expanded.

Mgr. Katarína Mikulová, PhD. – junior project manager


Mgr. Pavol Littera, PhD. – senior project manager


RNDr. Pavol Surovec – finance manager


Miroslav Farkaš – fieldwork coordinator


Ing. Drahoš Stano – fieldwork coordinator

We thank the administration of NP Slovenský Kras, CHKO Latorica, CHKO Cerová vrchovina, CHKO Ponitrie, CHKO Biele Karpaty, CHKO Malé Karpaty, CHKO Dunajské luhy.



Mgr. Roman Barták – coordinator for localities in Moravia

Petra Fügnerová – assistant

We thank AOPK – CHKO Pálava and the South Moravian Region for their help in restoring Moravian localities.


Local farmers help us with the restoration of specific locations. We owe the restoration and care of the site to:

ÚEV Veľký Kopec: Arnold Dócs with family

ÚEV Tarbucka: Juraj Kulčár and his son Dani

ÚEV Horný vrch – Jasovská plain: Urbariát Háj and Agrodružstvo Turňa

ÚEV Horný vrch – Zemné hradisko: Urbariát Dvorníky and Agrodružstvo Turňa 

ÚEV Horný vrch – Zádielská plain, section Hačavské lúky: Július Hodermarský, Agro Hačava, s.r.o.

ÚEV Silická plain: Družstvo Silická planina

ÚEV Plešivská plain: Agrospol Honce, s.r.o.; SHR Vojtech Szendi; SHR Gabriel Szendi

ÚEV Sedliská: Roman Halás with family