The LIFE integrated project is set to implement the Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) for the Natura 2000 network in Lithuania, a national strategy for specific measures for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity as well as a set of potential sources of funding by implementing 50 different sub-actions.

A.1 Filling baseline gaps, setting favourable reference values, SMART conservation objectives and developing innovative biodiversity conservation methods

Activities foreseen in action A.1 will fill in major gaps of missing information and will help to identify and validate the criteria of favourable conservation status of species by determining favourable reference values and conservation objectives by using principles of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) methodology. These activities are initial and essential for the successful implementation of the objectives of Natura 2000 network, and they will cover main areas such as:

  • inventory of insufficiently known species of Community interest (at least 27 species);
  • determination of favourable reference values and conservation objectives at site and at national level for all species and habitats of Community interest;

Filling in the knowledge gaps will allow for sound allocation of national and EU’s financial resources for restoration and maintenance of species of Community interest at favourable conservation status, etc.

Partner – Action leader: State Service for Protected Areas

Other involved partners: Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Ministry of Environment

A.2 Revision and acceleration of nature management planning process

The action aims on revision and optimizing preparation and implementation processes of management plans for Natura 2000 sites. The revision will especially address following challenges of management plan preparation: a) rather complex structure of management plan requires vast resources, which are beyond possibilities of the current system; b) approval and operationalization of the prepared management plans takes very long time and thus, partly loses its relevance.

Action involves:

  • Evaluation of nature management plans preparation experience and improvement of nature management planning process, including development of using web-based decision-making tool for nature management decisions;
  • Preparation and update of nature management plans for Natura 2000 sites.

Under this action current structure of management plans and its preparation process will be revised aiming at increasing efficiency of the whole process as well as integrating latest developments of EU best practices. Revision of the management planning process will be followed by preparation of missing management plans (at least 20) for Natura 2000 sites as well as by revision of already outdated plans (at least 50).

Partner – Action leader: State Service for Protected Areas

Other involved partners: Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Ministry of Environment

 

A.3 Strengthening integration of nature conservation measures into Rural development programme

Agri-environment related measures under the Rural Development Programs (RDPs) are one of the main instruments supporting biodiversity under the of Common Agricultural Policy. It clearly is among the main financial instruments addressing nature conservation in Lithuania, however in practice it lacks effectiveness and better area targeting. This action aims at maximizing contribution of Lithuanian RDP for nature conservation by introducing new agri-environmental support schemes addressing specific needs of protected species and habitats as well as addresses general improvement of effectiveness of agri-environmental measures i. e. its impact to the targeted area and administration of the measures itself.

Action involves:

  • Application of EU best practice and development of innovative agri-environmental measures;
  • Application of best practices in administration processes of agri-environmental measures;
  • Evidence based studies to validate and improve practices in the current agri-environmental measures.

The action will develop new agri-environmental measures focussed on biodiversity conservation by applying EU best-practice as well as introduce new approaches in administration processes. The action will perform evidence-based studies to validate environmental impacts of defined management requirements and backup compensation calculation with real data on habitat maintenance expenses, which is especial relevant for the areas with challenging conditions (e.g. wetlands, slope areas).

Partner – Action leader: Ministry of Environment

Other involved partners: State Service for Protected Areas, Ministry of Agriculture, Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Žemaitija National Park Administration

 

A.4 Strengthening integration of nature conservation measures into forest management planning

The action will address current legal inconsistencies related to the land-use rights, which sets limitations for the Administration of protected areas and/or other bodies to continuously manage protected habitats occurring in the forest land. In addition to the improvement of legislative framework, the action will focus on developing methodological recommendations for planning, management and conservation of habitats and species of forest ecosystem. Recommendations (planning standards) will be elaborated integrating best practices applied in EU, synthesizing practical know-how and research work. The recommendations will have legal status serving as guidance document for preparation of forest management plans. Action involves:

  • Revision of the regulation on management rights on the forest land and potential legislative adjustments preparation;
  • Preparation of the methodical guidance and forest management planning standards on integration of nature conservation measures into forestry management planning process.

In frame of the action, technological models for Dzukija National park protected habitats and species will be prepared, which will be implemented within conservation action C.2.

Partner – Action leader: Aleksandras Stulginskis University

Other involved partners: Ministry of Environment, State Service for Protected Areas, Ministry of Agriculture, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania, National State Forest Enterprise

A.5. Preparatory activities for conservation works in pilot territories

This action aims to prepare all necessary documentation and planning for conservation actions C.5 and C.6. Accordingly, it is divided into 2 sub-actions. During this action implementation management plans and technical projects for the foreseen renovation and building of infrastructure will prepared for two pilot areas of the project.

Partner – Action leader: Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania

Other involved partners: Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, State Service for Protected Areas

 

A.6 Set up of Natura 2000 Methodical analytical centre

The aim of the action is institutional capacity building of Natura 2000 network management in Lithuania. The action will be implemented in parallel to the complementary action planned for institutional gap assessment and analysis of functions and responsibilities of Ministry of Environment and its subordinated institutions regarding management system of Natura 2000 in Lithuania.

It is recognized that current system lacks analytical capacities to synthesize existing data flows and to steer effectiveness of the implementation of nature management plans, while assessment of effectiveness of implemented nature conservation measures and utilization of socio   economic opportunities becomes more actual.

The action will address this challenge by building the model of Natura 2000 Methodical analytical centre (MAC), which will hold specialists dealing with surveillance and analysis of species/habitats conservation status trends, analysing the effectiveness of the implementation of management measures, assisting the responsible institutions in appropriate impact assessment of plans or projects, linking nature conservation aspects with policy implementation measures in other sectors, such as agriculture, forestry and other.

Partner – Action leader: State Service for Protected Areas

C.1 Filling Natura 2000 network gaps: site establishment and land purchase

 

The action will fill Natura 2000 designation gaps by establishing new sites identified within action A1 implementation. Land purchase will be performed in the core conservation areas, which are currently privately owned, and the owners would not be willing being involved in the long-term conservation measures. Within implementation of the action, a number of conservation agreements with private land-users will be concluded to ensure long-term conservation measures implementation in forests, grasslands and wetlands habitats.

Action involves:

  • Further development of Natura 2000 network, strengthening of its ecological connectivity and coherence. Designation of Natura 2000 sites;
  • Preparation and realization of the programme of purchase of private agricultural and forest lands in Natura 2000 network;
  • Strengthening of conservation of nature values of Community interest in the private land by conservation agreements with land owners.

This action is associated primarily with action A.1.

Partner – Action leader: State Service for Protected Areas

Other involved partners: Ministry of Environment, Žemaitija National Park Administration, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania

C.2 Pilot forest conservation management plan implementation in Dzūkija National Park

Dzūkija National Park covers 58519.06 ha and the largest part of the Park’s forests is nominated as Natura 2000 area. Monocultural even age pine forests started to dominate due to intensification of forest management in the post-war period (intensive cuttings, planted stands, etc.), as well as due to disappearing open forest areas. Current forest management regulations do not support favourable status of many protected EU habitats and species. The management plans prepared within action A4 will be implemented as demonstration activity illustrating different nature conservation measures applicable for forest habitat restoration. Implemented management measures will ensure favourable status of protected EU habitats such as: 2330 Inland dunes with open Corynephorus and Agrostis grasslands, 9010 Western Taiga, 91T0 Central European lichen Scots pine forests, Habitats and Bird Directives protected species as Pulsatilla patens, Dianthus arenarius, Aegolius funereus, Caprimulgus europaeus, Coracias garrulous, Lullula arborea, Tetrao tetrix, Tetrao urogallus. New methods and measures of forest management for Lithuania will be practically introduced and tested during this action with possible dissemination of experience and results to other protected areas where forest ecosystems are dominating. This action is associated primarily with action A.4.

Partner – Action leader: Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration

Other involved partners: Aleksandras Stulginskis University, National State Forest Enterprise

 

C.3 Implementation of innovative agri-environmental schemes and its management approaches

The action aims on preforming pilot testing of innovative agri-environmental measures and proposals for improvement of administration of Rural Development Programme (RDP) measures, elaborated within action A.3. After testing phase and evaluation of results, measures which confirmed to be effective and reasonably managed, will be proposed to be integrated into new phase of RDP to become part of national agri-environmental framework, implemented in the national scale.

Action involves:

  • Pilot testing of innovative agri-environmental measures;
  • Pilot testing innovative administration processes of agri-environmental measures;
  • Integration of tested measures into national rural development programme.
  • Improvement and design of the new biodiversity related measures for the Lithuanian RDP.

Farmers from the pilot areas will be contracted to implement designed test-agri-environmental schemes and deliver necessary data. Based on the application experience, the schemes will be improved and suggested to be integrated into national Rural Development Programme for its application across the country. This will be done in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and its subordinated institutions.

This action is associated primarily with action A.3

Partner – Action leader:  Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania, Ministry of Environment

Other involved partners: State Service for Protected Areas, Ministry of, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Žemaitija National Park Administration

C.4 Establishment of a full cycle of maintaining Favourable Conservation Status (FCS) of wetland habitats

Many Natura 2000 territories with wetland habitats face several similar problems   devastated during soviet occupation period raised wetlands which needs to be restored, and large amount of biomass with high quantities of cellulose which can be hardly utilized.

Wetland in Užpelkiai Telmological Reserve, located in Žemaitija National park, is one of the examples of destroyed raised wetland – wetland was excavated and dewatered because of peat exploitation during soviet period. One of the aims of this action is to restore raised wetland with high water level and typical plants (Sphagnum sp., Drosera sp., etc.) and to stabilize whole ecosystem. In the process of restoration different types of dams and planting of specific wetland plants will be applied. It should guarantee fast peatbog transformation into raised wetland. In addition, different pilot methods of wetland restoration will be tested during implementation of NATURALIT and results will be used in other similar Natura 2000 territories for wetlands restoration.

Administrations of protected areas have challenged to find new possibilities to manage protected territories in a sustainable way last few years. It turned out that in Natura 2000 sites a great amount of biomass is not used properly, and appropriate solutions are not yet found, therefore different methods for better biomass utilization will be tested in Zemaitija National park. On the other hand, restoration of Uzpelkiai wetland will help to reduce the amount of biomass generated in this habitat. The main result expected after implementation of action C.4 is a complex solution for managing of similar Natura 2000 sites in a cost-effective way.

Partner – Action leader: Žemaitija National Park Administration

Other involved partners: State Service for Protected Areas

 

C.5. Promoting animal grazing for sustainable and economically viable management of open habitats

The action addresses one of the biggest challenges of maintaining open grassland and wetland habitats in Boreal region – they become unused and unmanaged because of the general decline of livestock breeding and of the intensification of it, when animals are kept inside big farm complexes rather outside in the grazing lands. This leads to abandonment of grasslands, primarily in areas which are not comfortable for farming. Usually these are in protected areas, rich in biodiversity and other values, which become threatened due to no management of the land. The action seeks to develop and demonstrate several animal grazing models, which would act as nature conservation measures. The solutions provided by the models would then be later replicated in other Natura 2000 territories, where animal grazing is needed and should be encouraged.

Action involves:

  • Initiating cooperation with land owners and farmers;
  • Restoring habitats and setting up infrastructure necessary for animal grazing in pilot areas;
  • Developing preconditions for long-term sustainability and economic viability of grazing measures;
  • Reviving pastoralism as a traditional way to manage open habitats.

Special attention within the action will be directed to local people and their involvement in the project activities, providing them with opportunities to learn entrepreneurship and delivering products with higher added value. All of the knowledge provided will be connected to animal grazing as a nature conservation measure. This way a long term and sustainable solution for management of open habitats will be reached. The activities of the action will be implemented and tested in 5 pilot areas. Issues tackled in the pilot areas will provide solutions, which would be also applicable to open habitats in the whole Natura 2000 network in Lithuania. The developed models will enhance habitat quality and rural development as new jobs and opportunities for local communities will be created from animal grazing activities. This action is associated primarily with action A.5.

Partner – Action leader: Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania

Other involved partners: State Service for Protected Areas, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Žemaitija National Park Administration

C.6 Promotion of local business benefiting from ecosystem services delivered by Natura 2000

 This action aims to demonstrate public-private partnership (PPP) case in building business and biodiversity concept where local business can receive monetary value from Natura 2000 site and at the same time maintain area having high biodiversity value. PPP case will demonstrate possible win-win cooperation scenario between projected area administration and local business operators (including farmers). It will concentrate on developing pilot project area as a destination area where nature conservation and business development create synergy and cause sustainable rural development.

Destination area development will provide other business opportunities to local farmers, tourism operators and other product/service providers acting in the area of the national park, in particular, close to the surroundings of the project site. The action will stimulate nature tourism activities in the area with a concept that such tourism industry is beneficial for local communities and whole local regional development with clear orientation that it generates income from delivered products/services to the targeted national park area. Therefore, involvement of local community as products/services providers in the action will be essential.

Partner – Action leader: Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania

Other involved partners: Ministry of Environment, State Service for Protected Areas, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration.

C.7 Capacity and knowledge building in development of innovative biodiversity conservation, population and habitat evaluation methods

Activities in this action are aiming on creation and implementation of more efficient methods and future scenarios in theoretical and practical aspects of EC interest species and habitat conservation. The sub-actions are aiming either to cover activities related to capacity and knowledge building in implementation of biodiversity offsetting principles (No Net Loss) either creation, testing and standardization innovative monitoring methods using modern equipment and modelling tools for the evaluation of selected “hard” species or their guilds to make monitoring methods more efficient. This action will critically review available experience as well as develop and test mostly promising modern but still not widely used biodiversity conservation and monitoring methods.

Partner – Action leader: State Service for Protected Areas, Aleksandras Stulginskis University

Other involved partners: Ministry of Environment

 

C.8 Capacity building

 

Overall aim of capacity building is to improve significantly skills of staff of all institutions participating in Natura 2000 network management, to consolidate expert capability in the institutional system, to make it less dependent on external capacity and to provide sufficient knowledge about possible ways of optimization of the management of Natura 2000 network in Lithuania. Therefore, Capacity building activity consist of Internal trainings and Study visits abroad sub-actions which has a little bit different goals. This action is also connected with many other Project activities and is expected to make a significant input into overall Project results.

Partner – Action leader: Environmental Projects Management Agency

Other involved partners: Ministry of Environment, State Service for Protected Areas, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Žemaitija National Park Administration, Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, National State Forest Enterprise

D. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

During the NATURALIT project all conservation actions will be monitored for their impact. Depending on the geographical scope of conservation actions monitoring will be divided into the two tasks:

  • monitoring of impact of conservation actions at NATURALIT project sites level, and
  • monitoring of impact of conservation actions aimed at whole Natura 2000 network.

Monitoring of impact of conservation actions is necessary be a tool for evaluation of qualitative and quantitative effectiveness of implemented actions. It is also very important to monitor the progress towards main objective of the implementation of PAF and Natura 2000 network management – the favourable conservation status of species and natural habitats of Community interest. To further demonstrate social and economic benefits of Natura 2000 network and impact of NATURALIT project activities together with complementary actions there is a need to assess total value and changes of these benefits. Results of monitoring will be disseminated among stakeholder in Lithuania and abroad by means of networking (international conferences, Natura 2000 biogeographic process, workshops, study tours and etc.).

This action also involves the monitoring of PAF implementation.

Partner – Action leader: State Service for Protected Areas, Ministry of Environment

Other involved partners: Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Žemaitija National Park Administration, Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania, Environmental Projects Management Agency, Ministry of Agriculture

 

E.1 Project visibility, dissemination of project results

The aim of this action is to build a strong awareness among various relevant audiences about the Natura 2000 values, the objectives, activities and accomplishments of the project, the role of the partners’ organizations in the implementation of the project, the impact of the cooperation to the Natura 2000 sites management in Lithuania, disseminate project results to main stakeholders.  The action will include setting up obligatory visibility infrastructure (project website, information boards, Laymen’s report) as well as a set of other visibility activities.

Partner – Action leader: Environmental Projects Management Agency

Other involved partners: Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Žemaitija National Park Administration, Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, State Service for Protected Areas

 

E.2 Awareness raising about Natura 2000 and ecosystem services in Lithuania

This action aims to promote Natura 2000 enabling addressing specific target groups, such as disabled people, local communities and extend different awareness raising tools, which are not limited of being information channels, but stimulate participation and active involvement as more effective communication strategy of public engagement.

Partner – Action leader: Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania

Other involved partners: Environmental Projects Management Agency, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Žemaitija National Park Administration, State Service for Protected Areas

 

 

 

 

E.3 Experience exchange and replication


This action will include participation in the international conferences, workshops, other international events and active networking with other LIFE projects (IP and others).

Participation in international events is necessary in order to present project findings and results to the international community working in the field of Natura 2000 and will help to disseminate project’s results at an international level. It will also assist in gaining new knowledge which later can be applied for reviewing project’s actions.

Partner – Action leader: Environmental Projects Management Agency

Other involved partners: Ministry of Environment, State Service for Protected Areas, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Žemaitija National Park Administration, Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania

F. Project management and administration

The management of the project will be a continuous activity from the first to the last month of the project in order to achieve smooth implementation of all actions leading to achieving project objectives. Project management besides daily administration will also include other bodies (advisory board, stakeholder reference group) ensuring high quality project management and involvement of relevant decision makers and key stakeholders into the implementation process. Annual project partners meetings and periodical meetings of project management core team will ensure regular update of project implementation and joint agreements among the partners. Action also involves such activities as financial audit of the project, revision of PAF, preparation of After-LIFE plan.

Partner – Action leader: Environmental Projects Management Agency

Other involved partners: Ministry of Environment, State Service for Protected Areas, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park Administration, Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai Strict Nature Reserve Administration, Žemaitija National Park Administration, Baltic Environmental Forum Lithuania, Ministry of Agriculture, National State Forest Enterprise.