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The grazing of cows promotes biodiversity, Source: Riga Municipality

Cow mobile unit comes to the rescue for Riga grasslands

Cow mobile unit comes to the rescue for Riga grasslands

An innovative method, part of an EU-funded project

On Thursday, 20 May, 10 cows with three calves, part of a mobile herd of the Latvian Fund for Nature (LDF) arrived at the seaside Vakarbuļļi meadows in Riga. The animals were placed there as part of the GrassLIFE project, which is an initiative, funded by the EU LIFE Programme and aimed at optimizing, developing and improving the conservation status of top-priority grasslands. This is the second summer that the bovines return to the suburban meadows and residents are already familiar with them.

Sometimes innovation simply means restoring what used to work in the past

Vakarbuļļi grasslands have been managed by the Riga municipality for more than 10 years. The locals may remember that cows used to graze in the Daugavgrīva grasslands back in the 1980s, but recently the areas have been mowed. However, it turns out that modern technology is not always the answer as the meadows are very difficult to mow with tractor equipment. It is also difficult to remove the cuttings, so grazing is a good way to manage the protected Seaside grasslands.

It is planned to graze a total of about 28 hectares of the unique habitat in Vakarbuļļi, which is distributed only along the Baltic Sea coast. There, one can find protected plant species such as the seaside army, the marsh root and the gladiolus root. 

However, a large part of the territory has been taken over by common reeds and common heather, which suppress species diversity. The mobile herd will help limit them by eating the new shoots.

The cows of the mobile herd are peaceful and friendly as they are used to the presence of people. The pastures are regularly monitored by the herd coordinators, and the cows are equipped with transmitters so that they can also be monitored remotely.

The animals are part of the LDF mobile herd, which has more than 110 cattle that go to graze in natural meadows throughout Latvia. A mobile herd operating throughout the country is considered an innovative approach to the restoration of natural meadows both in the Baltics and elsewhere in the European Union.

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