The Importance of Engaging Local People in Landscape Management – Experiences from an EU Project
“Bull by the Horns” -project initiated landscape management and promoted biodiversity associated with
diminishing High Nature Value farmland habitats in Finland. A specific focus was on grazed semi-natural grasslands and wood-pastures which are collectively referred to as traditional rural biotopes (TRBs). Collaboration among project workers, non-farming landowners, and cattle owners reintroduced grazing to abandoned pastures, and management was financed through agri-environmental payments. Using adaptive co-management principles, the project enabled collective definition of integrated site-specific management objectives. A better understanding of contemporary challenges and opportunities to advance TRB management cumulated through incorporation of local actors into collaborative management planning. Authority-driven measures failed to engage locals, but supporting existing networks among landowners and cattle farmers was successful. The project gave insight into good practices on collaborative landscape management, and it proved to be efficient in directing management actions to biologically valuable sites. Due to a short operative period and lack of follow-up procedures, the actual environmental outcomes of established management could not be verified. Concernedly, environmental administration is becoming heavily reliant on projects, which creates further risks because of their short time frames and narrow focus. Functional governance practices that are tested in projects should be consolidated through more permanent resources.