Project in the Regional Natural Park (PNR) of the Massif des Bauges, France

The species inventory of a grassland reflects the way in which it is managed and its location. If the management method remains unchanged, the species composition will generally remain unchanged as well. This correlation opens up the opportunity to link subsidies for extensive grassland to the occurrence of key species of flora. In order to implement this innovative, results-oriented approach, a list of meadow flowers serves as a simple tool for reliable identification of extensive species-rich grassland.
© Caroline Begle
© Caroline Begle

As part of the Species-rich Grassland Programme, subsidies are paid according to the occurrence of certain easily identifiable plant species (indicator plants). Compliance with the commitments is monitored using a specially developed control method on site. During the period before the first growing crop is used (which, depending on altitude and phenological course, takes place between mid-May and mid-June), the farmers inspect their areas using a prescribed methodology and note the indicator plants found there. Subsidies are paid if a certain number of the various indicator species is found on the areas concerned.

Participation in the scheme is voluntary. Participating farmers undertake to preserve the species richness of their grasslands (meadows and pasturage). Farmers retain the choice of practices and resources to be used, so that biodiversity is not seen as a constraint: it calls upon their technical skills and sense of responsibility. They are also sensitised to issues such as nature conservation and biodiversity. In order to publicise the scheme more widely, a competition to reward farmers with the most attractive flowering meadows is held every year.

The project was launched in the Regional Natural Park (PNR) of the Massif des Bauges in 2006. In May 2008, 70 farmers with a total area of 1000 hectares were participating in the project. Funding amounts to € 89/ha on all participating areas.


The experience gained in the Regional Natural Park (PNR) of the Massif des Bauges is very positive. The new results-oriented subsidies for species-rich meadows and pastures are achieving high acceptance among farmers, as they are rewarded for their work on a results-oriented basis without having to deal with extra red tape, while being respected for their experience and professional knowledge. The staff at the Natural Park, who accompany the scheme, also view it in positive terms: they are no longer required to act as inspectors but provide advice and support to farmers, resulting in a new form of communication and cooperation.

This is still a relatively new scheme at the Regional Natural Park (PNR) of the Massif des Bauges. In Baden-Württemberg (Germany), a similar scheme has been under way since 2002 and has proved very successful. Here, more than 10,000 farmers have participated in the scheme, which is funded by the MEKA II and III programmes. In France, a total of eight natural parks are experimenting with similar programmes to promote species-rich grassland.

Positive ecological impacts have been demonstrated in Germany based on multiannual monitoring. It is still too early for any such ecological assessment in the Regional Natural Park (PNR) of the Massif des Bauges.


Further information


Species-Rich Grassland Programme


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