Cattle help to save overgrown coastal meadows

Twenty-one Aberdeen-Angus cows were purchased with the support of EU funds to restore the Salinõmme salt marsh and the coastal meadows of Hiiumaa.

A non-profit organization, Arhipelaag, has worked for years in cooperation with the local farmers to preserve the coastal meadows of Hiiumaa. “We purchase the cattle and organise project management, the farmers rear the cattle, maintain the coastal meadows and will receive calves in return of their work,” said Toomas Kokovkin, representative of the non-profit organisation.

EIC funded restoration of naturally valuable areas of the Salinõmme salt marsh and coastal meadows (75 ha) in the Hiiumaa landscape protection area with 90,158 euros from the EU Regional Development Fund.

Dignified living and working conditions

In this project, animals were bought, shelters built for them, an area set up for storing hay bales, and the path taken by the animals to their “workplace”– the coastal meadow – was improved. Since the area of the Salinõmme salt marsh had largely grown over, reed needed to be cut and crushed on 21 hectares.

The project supported by EIC has acted as a strong driver – it was followed by construction of an environmentally friendly dung pit, in cooperation with the land owner and the Estonian Fund for Nature, and then construction of a winter shed for the cattle by the land owner.

The Salinõmme salt marsh is one of the largest in Estonia. The salt concentration of sea water in its soil rises to the level that makes salt marsh plants grow. The salt marsh area alternates with former coastal meadows and is surrounded as a buffer with protected forest and the sea.

In the beginning of the 1990s, grazing in this area ended and the land became overgrown with reeds. By 2011, an estimated 70% of the area was covered in reeds, meaning that the coastal meadows had perished. Restoration of the salt marsh and the coastal meadows should help to improve the situation of at least nine protected species and two protected habitat types.