From May 15th to 17th, a visit of LIFE projects’ representatives from Metsahallitus (the main state environmental organization in Finland) took place in Lithuania. During the visit, many topics of mutual interest were presented and discussed, ranging from Lithuania’s protected area system and Metsahallitus’ project selection and implementation system to the recently developed LIFE strategic integrated project application by the Environmental Project Management Agency.
One of the main areas of interest for the Finnish project representatives was the protection goals of the “Naturalit” project, their methodological aspects, and the status of the Natura 2000 network, which is significantly influenced by the results achieved by “Naturalit.” A separate group of topics was dedicated to swamps. After presentations on the specific activities carried out within the project in Lithuania and impressive Finnish experiences in implementing projects in this field, the visitors had the opportunity to visit the Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve.
On the second day, the results of the “Naturalit” project regarding the integration of nature conservation in forestry and the planned experimental nature management activities in Dzūkija National Park were presented. One of these activities is the controlled burning of forest litter, so the generous sharing of Finnish colleague’s extensive experience was particularly relevant. In the category of agriculture-related topics, the project’s organized “Good Farmer Championship,” a new agricultural environmental measure, and extensive grazing as a nature management tool were presented.
The Čepkeliai State Nature Reserve, with its sea of blooming rare and abundant Eriophorum vaginatum was a pleasant surprise, while the recently opened area inhabited by bison in the Stėgalių Nature Complex delighted with the appearance of unexpected giants – European bison.
During the visit, other topics were also presented, such as the success cases of the “Naturalit” project influencing related policy areas, Lithuania’s progress in marine protected areas, and the LIFE strategic nature project application prepared by Finland. The three intense days of the program allowed not only the exchange of a wealth of information and networking but also a fresh appreciation of the stunning beauty of Lithuanian nature.
The “Naturalit” project team, who organized the visit, sincerely thanks their colleagues who were not directly involved in the project but willingly contributed to the presentation of various topics. Thank you all for your assistance, positive atmosphere, and sharing of accumulated knowledge.