The hay meadow programme


The hay meadows are the jewel of the project area: not only are they an internationally important site for endangered Maculinea butterflies, but also harbour numerous other protected plant and animal species. They are mown once or twice per year, not fertilized and grazed in autumn and spring. The mowing date can be late in the year (July, August and September) and is carried out in a mosaical way due to the division of the meadows into numerous parcels. The land has been farmed in this way for centuries but nowadays the meadows are threatened by abandonment as well as transformation into sheep pastures.

Most of the farmers who still mow their meadows are also carrying out high quality nature conservation, due to their low-impact land management methods. These practices are valuable for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services, and should be rewarded.

Despite this, and the high species richness of the area, the project communes are not eligible for the national subsidies for High Nature Value grasslands (agri-environment). This is where our pilot programme came into play: in 2011 it offered a payment for the mowing of selected hay meadow sites (Fanatul Satesc, Fanatul Domnesc and Sekeliste).

Our requirements were modeled on the conditions of the national agricultural subsidy scheme, with two important exceptions:

• Payments were made only for mown hay meadows, not for pastures.

• The mowing date had to be after the 25th of August due to the life cycle of Maculinea spp. butterflies.

The reward was 200 Euros/ha for manual and 140 Euros/ha for mechanized (tractor) mowing.


Results (for both communities)

Contracted surface: 33.5 ha

Mown surface: 20 ha (58%)

Manually mown: 7 ha (35%)

Mowing farmers with contract: 22



On the basis of our pilot subsidy programme, we are able to give recommendations for the project area but also draw some general conclusions for the agri-environment programme in Romania. We found that:

• Farmers need greater access to resources and services, such as affordable small hand mowing machines and contractors for manual mowing.

• Summer grazing of hay meadows should be prevented

• There should be separate agri-environment packages for hay meadows and pastures.

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