Dinara back to LIFE international conference

The international conference “Working together towards grassland sustainability (cross-sectoral approach)” brought together experts from various fields. 

From March 21 to 24, about a hundred participants had the opportunity to participate in a rich program and learn about the experiences of local and international experts in the sustainable use of grasslands and the management of Natura 2000 sites. Participants also participated in different workshop sessions and joined us in visiting the restoration sites of “Dinara back to LIFE” project.

The conference was opened by Tomislav Hudina, Dinara back to LIFE project manager, and introduced the activities and results of the project so far, which were realized in cooperation with the project partners Croatian forests ltd., the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Zagreb and Local action group “Cetinska krajina”.

First day of the conference: Common agricultural policy and rural development

During the first day, presentations were held on agriculture-related topics. Bojan Ivanetić spoke about the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy for the period 2023-2027 at the level of the European Union and about the EU Biodiversity Strategy until 2030. Through the presentation, a review was given of the Strategic Plan of the Agricultural Policy and Innovations of the Republic of Croatia until 2027. 

Assoc. Ph.D.Sc. Marin Čagalj spoke about Key steps in the establishment of a short supply chain in the area of Dinara. Čagalj explained what short supply chains are, and how they function, and also presented the results of a questionnaire conducted among farmers from the Dinara area. 

From the Administrative Department for the Economy, EU Funds and Agriculture of the Split-Dalmatia County, Katarina Šuta presented the currently announced measures to support the development of agriculture in the Split-Dalmatia County, and Ivana Žanko, manager of the Local Action Group “Cetinska krajina” spoke about connecting activities in the rural economy and about the rural development programs. 

In the session, Rural Development – field stories, local young farmers Frano Moro and Antonio Mravak presented themselves and told firsthand what it’s like to be a farmer-entrepreneur, what challenges they face, what helps them in developing their business and what their experiences are in the production and sale of domestic products from own production. Karla Škorjanc from the Agricultural Cooperative of the island of Krk shared her experience of running a co-operative and emphasized the importance and value of co-operatives in achieving good results, cooperation, and building trust with the community. 

The second day of the conference: Preservation of grasslands, forests and nature protection

The second day of the conference had varied content on the topic of grassland conservation and the relationship between forestry and Natura 2000 areas. Lectures were opened by guests from the Czech Institute for Nature Protection, leaders of the strategic LIFE project “One Nature”, which contributes to biodiversity and the promotion of ecosystem services in protected areas of the Natura 2000 network in the Czech Republic. 

Iris Beneš spoke about the role of common pastures in the preservation of grasslands and presented the Gajna area as an example of sustainable grazing as a prerequisite for nature protection and Ugo Toić from the Island development agency shared his experience of restoring grasslands as an important role for preserving the identity of the Cres island as well as the importance of the Cres sheep as part of the cultural landscape, island system, and nature conservation. 

Also, the participants had the opportunity to hear the inspiring story of Stefan Knopfer, a young herdsman from Austria who leads the organization Hirtenkultur, whose goal is to network the last shepherds in Austria with each other as well as with shepherds from other countries, support them in their work, and awake young people’s interest in the issue of nature conservation through conventional agriculture.

The session Forestry and nature protection was opened by Prof. Ph.D. Ivan Martinić from the Faculty of Forestry in Zagreb with the lecture “What does Natura 2000 mean for forests?”, and he continued the presentation by sharing his experience in managing Natura 2000 in the forest using examples of Slovenia. He pointed out that forestry is crucial in the role of nature conservation because almost 23% of European forests are included in Natura 2000, and in Croatia, 36% of Natural areas are made up of forests.

Mile Radočaj from Croatian forests ltd. presented the Ecomanager project the goal of which is to ensure sustainable management of biodiversity in the forest part of the Natura 2000 area. Blaž Štefanek from Hrvatske šume then presented three large projects implemented by Hrvatske šume, which are related to the management of Natura 2000 forest area. Naturavita, a project to clear mine-suspected areas and replace Euro-American poplars tree with autochthonous poplars; Fearless Velebit, which will rid PP Velebit and NP Paklenica completely of mines, and the Karlovac Kars project, in which 1,700 ha are de-mining, 216 ha of forest land is restored and fire protection roads are created. 

The third day of the conference: Controlled burning, wildfires in nature and livestock breeding and grazing

The prescribed burning and wildfires session began with the presentation Controlled burning of grasslands and its effects on vegetation by Vedran Šegota, Ph.D., Šegota presented the controlled burning experiment that took place n in 2015 in the Krka National Park, in which a small area of overgrown grassland was burned, after which the recovery of grassland vegetation continued to be regularly monitored. He also concluded that controlled burning is a good method of maintaining grasslands and that it increases biodiversity. 

Domina Delač from the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb, in her lecture Wildfire effects on soil and water, presented controlled burning as one of the methods of preventing the spread of summer fires, but it was also noted that there is no unequivocal conclusion about the impact of controlled burning on soil and water, because there is a number of factors that can affect this, for example, how soon after ignition it rains and how much rain falls, how intense was burning, etc. 

In his presentation, Ivan Budinski from the Biom Association showed a number of examples of controlled burning in Europe. He presented examples from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Portugal, and Greece, where habitats are maintained in this way, but summer wildfires and damage caused by them are also prevented. 

In the session on livestock breeding and grazing, Prof. Ph.D. Antun Kostelić from the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb spoke about sheep grazing, difficulties with various diseases, and predators on karst pastures. Prof. Ph.D. Sc. Ante Ivanković also from the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb presented recommendations on the use of autochthonous local breeds in recreation, gastronomy, etc. with the aim of encouraging their cultivation and their preservation. 

In the presentation, Istrian native cattle breed and sustainable land management, Gordan Šubara from the Agency for Rural Development of Istria presented the biggest problems of depopulation of rural areas that were historically the centers of traditional cattle breeding and gave examples of how breeders and processors can achieve economic sustainability through a multidisciplinary approach to solving problems and all this on the example of good practice such as the educational-gastronomic center in Istra. 

The last lecture in the session was about grazing as a method of grassland maintenance. Prof. Ph.D. Sc. Josip Leto from the Faculty of Agriculture from Zagreb spoke about mixed grazing and benefits for livestock, biodiversity, and livestock farmers, and Associate Professor Ph.D. Hrvoje Kutnjak spoke about data analysis as part of the Dinara back to LIFE project. His presentation was aimed at defining the optimal use of grasslands on Dinara for livestock grazing in order to achieve the maximum positive effect on animal growth and ensure the preservation of biodiversity. 

At the end of the conference, Ivana Selanec from Biom Association presented and opened the discussion on “Guidelines for the restoration and sustainable management of dry grasslands” which bring together the experience and lessons learned from the three-year implementation of the grassland restoration project on Dinara. 


During the conference, three workshops were held; Natura 2000 and the Restoration of Nature, Transhumance, and the Involvement of volunteers in the restoration of nature. On the last day was organized to the locations where restoration activities are carried out as part of the Dinara back to LIFE project. The joint trip rounded off the gathering of all those who, with their effort, dedication, and experience, want to preserve grasslands and use them wisely in the future. 


Controlled burning of overgrown grasslands on Dinara

At the beginning of February, we conducted controlled burning of overgrown grassland on Dinara and thus successfully continued the activity we started two years ago.

Controlled burning is one of the grassland restoration methods that has been used in livestock farming since ancient times and is used primarily to keep grassland areas free of unwanted wooden vegetation and to improve the quality of pastures. 


Our first step was to inform the local public and stakeholders with the implementation plan and present the benefits of controlled burning for biodiversity.

We hope that our guidelines will be used by other institutions in the future to facilitate the preparation and implementation of controlled burning. 


In 2021 our team implemented controlled burning as a pilot activity to test logistic and administrative requirements, which made implementation in 2023 much easier. Controlled burning activities were also supported by local fire fighting authorities, project partners and volunteers. 

Favorable weather conditions – dry weather without rainfall and wind – showed up already in the first week of February, which enabled us to start with controlled burning. 

Also, it is important to emphasize that this activity is carried out based on the Forest management program with the management plan for the area of Vrdovo (it is called Forest management program but also includes state owned grasslands within the area), where activities for the purpose of preserving biodiversity are prescribed. Controlled burning was introduced into the Management program based on the Ordinance on conservation objectives and conservation measures for target species and habitat types in the Natura 2000 areas, which prescribes controlled burning as a conservation measure for some habitat types and species, including ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortulana) and Eastern Sub-Mediterranean dry grasslands (Scorzoneretalia villosae) (Natura 62A0) on which we are working as part of the Dinara back to LIFE project. 

We carried out controlled burning at the area of Vrdovo with the aim of improving habitat conditions for various animal species dependent on open habitats, with a special emphasis on the ortolan bunting. Ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortulana) is a strictly protected bird species that loses its habitat due to the encroachment  of grasslands, and its presence has been recorded mainly in areas that were recently burned(either controlled or in many cases in summer wildfires). 

We restored 50 ha of overgrown grasslands and we hope that they will be sustainably managed by grazing in the future. Hopefully the number of nesting pairs of the ortolan bunting will increase, as well as the number of grazing animals. 

Controlled burning is recognized by the nature protection sector around the world and the method is used to restore areas that are overgrown or that are in different stages of succession, which need to be slowed down or stopped in order to preserve or maintain the desired habitat features.  

Controlled burning is not a wildfire

Restoration sites are chosen in a way that habitat types and surrounding vegetation are not damaged or endangered by burning. A great deal of attention is paid to minimizing the impact on the organisms, primarily animals.


Implementing controlled burning is the same as the risk posed by any wildfire: primarily, the spread of fire to plots that were not the target of controlled burning and deep burning of soil. Both of these risks are avoided by good preparation, careful selection of the plots, selection of favorable weather conditions during the controlled burning activity, and the presence of a sufficient number of prepared participants in coordination with the competent firefighting department. Controlled burning is carried out in the winter period when there is a significantly smaller amount of dry biomass and when the fire spreads more slowly which gives firefighters the opportunity to easily control the fire.

Unlike controlled burning, wildfires have numerous negative impacts on various organisms and their habitats. They usually occur in the warmer period of the year in drought conditions. In case of windy weather, the situation gets even worse. Fire often burns large areas, including those that we want to preserve, such as forests, olive groves, vineyards, but also houses and other infrastructure. Animals that are not fast enough or cannot fly are also burned in that case. Burnt areas are later exposed to much stronger soil erosion by wind and water, especially on sloping terrain. It should also be emphasized that wildfires leave a much larger carbon footprint, they release much larger amounts of stored carbon dioxide than in the case of controlled burning, because the amount of organic matter burned in wildfires is much bigger than with controlled burning. Even though the burnt areas sooner or later turn green again and vegetation begins to develop and animals arrive, this process takes much longer than after the controlled burning. In case of controlled burning, with the arrival of first rains, the regrowth of the vegetation begins, as the underground parts of the plants are mostly undamaged. 

Controlled burning in other countries

Controlled burning is a widespread method that is implemented in a large number of countries, from the Mediterranean and Baltic countries and the United Kingdom to the USA and Australia. In the United Kingdom, encroached grasslands are burned for the grassland management purpose while Norwegians use controlled burning on large areas for the purpose of maintaining pastures for sheep, preventing overgrowth of juniper and heather. In Spain controlled burning is widespread in different habitats for the purpose of maintaining them in a desired condition, and in the USA, burning prevents the overgrowth of prairies by shrubby vegetation  enabling large herbivores to graze and  maintain mosaic habitats like oak forests with glades. Controlled burning is also applied  in pine forests to maintain the grass cover in the forest and enable the restoration of pine trees. In many of these examples, the initial argument was not habitat maintenance, but the controlled burning of biomass (dry branches, leaves, dry grass, flammable plant species), because burning in the colder period of the year proved to be a successful and spatial limitation of catastrophic summer wildfires. For example, after catastrophic fires in Portugal, as a measure to prevent them in the future, they revived the tradition of controlled burning. 

In Croatia, controlled burning has recently only been carried out on relatively small and protected areas such as the Krka National Park or the Significant Landscape Kamenjak in Istria. However, primarily shepherds, but also farmers, still use burning in the winter months to maintain private grasslands and  agricultural land that is temporarily or permanently  not used for production, which means that such a tradition is still present. Unfortunately, nowadays large parts of these practices are carried out without control. Recent wildfires on large areas on Dinara have destroyed habitats that will take decades or centuries to restore and bring back the species that lived there. Such a “tradition” of uncontrolled burning shouldn’t  have a place in modern spatial management, but also in the general approach of man to. Controlled burning, on the other hand, as a method of grassland management, is a way where using fire respects all users of the space, habitats and species that live on it. In that case, those who carry out this activity are obliged to make sure that the fire does not spread to forest or other habitats. 

Have a look on how implementation of controlled burning of overgrown grasslands on Dinara looked like from our perspective. 

Dinara is part of the Natura 2000 network and species and habitats which are priorities for conservation are clearly defined. In order to ensure favorable conditions for priority species we need various types of grasslands, forests and transitional habitats. Maintenance of those habitats require different techniques and controlled burning is one of them. In addition, natural resources should be treated with great respect, because they need to be kept for future generations. 

Activity calendar News

”Dinara back to LIFE” conference starting soon

We are delighted to present a program and open a call for participants of “Dinara back to LIFE” project conference “Working together towards grassland sustainability (cross-sectoral approach)”.

We aim to bring together stakeholders from different sectors such as nature conservation, forestry, agriculture, public authorities, local action groups, etc. and discuss opportunities and the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation in grassland management. The project team will also present “Guidelines for dry grassland restoration and sustainable management”, consisting of knowledge, advice, and lessons learned from the project grassland restoration experience of the last three years.

The conference will take 4 days in The multimedia hall of the Museum of the Alka of Sinj (location). The program includes a field visit to grassland restoration sites on the final day. We prepared an exciting and interactive program.

Register now to secure your place.

Participation in the project conference is free of charge, and the food and conference venue is covered by the “Dinara back to LIFE” project. Accommodation and travel costs are not covered by the project, but by participants individually.

For more information please download the conference program.

Please feel free to contact if you need any further information.

Activity calendar Activity calendar-home News

Save the date! ”Dinara back to LIFE” project conference

Working Together Towards Grasslands Sustainability (Cross-sectoral Approach)

We are delighted to announce the “Dinara back to LIFE” project conference “Working together towards grassland sustainability (cross-sectoral approach)”.

Save the date! The conference will be held in Sinj, Croatia from 21 to 24 March 2023.

We aim to bring together stakeholders from different sectors such as nature conservation, forestry, agriculture, public authorities, local action groups, etc., and discuss opportunities and the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation in grassland management. 

The project team will also present “Guidelines for dry grassland restoration and sustainable management”. The Guidelines are based on the grassland restoration experience of the last three years, with the aim of being a knowledge resource for governing institutions. We are hopeful that our knowledge, advice, and lessons learned will prove to be useful for future sustainable grassland management.

We will continue planning the event and logistics, and keep you updated with the information. Conference invitation will be sent to your e-mail in January 2023, and until then please make sure to save the date!

You can also find new updates at

           Conference themes

  • Guidelines for dry grassland restoration and sustainable management

  • The role of nature conservation, forestry and agriculture sector in grassland conservation and sustainable use and management of Natura 2000 sites

  • Opportunities for cross-sectoral cooperation

  • Local communities leading rural development


Are you interested in attending the “Dinara back to LIFE” project conference? We’d love to have you! Although our registration isn’t open just yet, you can express your interest on the link.


Award from the City of Vrlika to the Dinara back to LIFE project!

In Vrlika at the beginning of October, the City council held a session with numerous guests for the celebration of the Day of the City of Vrlika. The most solemn moment of the session was the recognition and award ceremony for contributing to Vrlika’s area.

In the category Collective Award,  the award went to our project Dinara back to LIFE!

We are happy that the City of Vrlika recognized our work and are grateful for the support it gives us in the implementation of the project. For us, this award is a great honor and a confirmation that our efforts are going in the right direction, but it is also a motivation to be even better.

To all the citizens of Vrlika, sincere congratulations on the occasion of the Day of the City of Vrlika and the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!


The camp Dinara Back To Life invites participants from the emigration

Applications have been opened for the educational-volunteer camp Dinara back to LIFE, which will be held from 5 to 19 September 2021 in Vrlika near Knin. All students of natural sciences are invited to apply, who want to acquire theoretical and practical knowledge about lawn restoration and sustainable nature management. One place in the camp is reserved for participants from Croatian emigration.

The costs of accommodation and food will be borne by the organizer, as well as the cost of transport for participants (arrival and departure). For participants from the emigration, travel costs will be co-financed in the amount of up to 200 euros. The number of participants is limited to 20.

Applications are open until June 5, and students admitted to the camp will be notified after June 15.


The camp is intended for students, future experts in the field of nature protection, motivated to volunteer at the camp and to use the acquired experience and knowledge for further study, scientific work or work. In addition to the practical experience of restoration, the emphasis of the camp will be on the educational component, presenting topics important for planning management in nature protection. Lecturers at the camp will be experts from the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zagreb, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, LAG Cetinska krajina, as well as Biom experts.

Lawn restoration will be carried out in the Dinara area, close to the accommodation. The organizers will also provide students with transportation in the field, the necessary tools and equipment for work, as well as guidance on fieldwork. Accommodation of volunteers is in the Ecological Station Vrlika (renovated in 2009) located in the village Ježević, Vučemilovići.

Vrlika Ecological Station

It is to be expected from the volunteers to be ready to participate in the camp for two weeks, be motivated to work on the restoration of lawns and nature conservation, to participate actively in planned activities within the camp, to be willing to work with hand tools to remove woody vegetation on lawns and additional activities, to participate in the educational part of the program and to be motivated to further disseminate and use the acquired experience and knowledge.

The wider Dinara project back to LIFE (, which revitalizes natural habitats in the wider Dinara area, is implemented by the Faculty of Agriculture, the University of Zagreb, Croatian Forests, Local Action Group “Cetinska Krajina” and the Biom Association as a leading partner.


Communication activities in the first year

Communications take a great role in „Dinara back to LIFE“ project. The goals of project communications is to set up internal procedures, communicate the progress of project activities, increase project visibility, popularize and promote nature protection and benefits of grassland ecosystems, and raise awareness of target audiences for necessity of biodiversity protection.

The priority in the first few months of the project was setting up internal and external communication channels of the project, developing the visual identity of the project and setting up a website and social network profile.

Achievements for the first year of the project:

  • development of project visual identity
  • setting up project website
  • creating Facebook social media profile
  • development of communication plan
  • media work and reporting
  • networking

Full version Communications report for 2020. is uploaded in the Publications section of the website and can be accessed here.

Activity calendar News

Controlled burning: The first restoration activity of the project implemented

At the end of February our team implemented the first restoration activity at the project site. Controlled burning was performed on 6 hectares of overgrown grasslands at Dinara mountain.

Restoration activities of “Dinara back to LIFE” project are scheduled to start in the second year of implementation. First such activity, controlled burning, was performed at the end of the last week. Since it is an activity which has to be implemented in the cold period of the year, it was selected as the first one. The goal of controlled burning is to use it to remove unwanted wooden vegetation which is overtaking the grasslands.

In the beginning of February the project team published an article “13 questions about controlled burning”, as an announcement of the activity for the local community, answers for frequently asked questions, and open invitation for the community to further inform about the activity.

The weather conditions at the end of February were favorable for our activity, which was implemented 26.2. With coordination from the local  firefighting unit and help from our volunteers, we managed to restore 6 hectares of overgrown grasslands. This experience was highly valuable for our team, as we plan to restore at least 100 hectares of overgrown grasslands by the end of the project. Implementation was also a testing activity for our team, as we learned about administrative and logistic requirements of the activity, which will help our work later on.

Controlled burning is a method we use to increase the quality of habitat for key species. In this case in Dinara mountain, it is used to improve the quality of habitat for Emberiza hortulana. This species often uses grasslands which were burned in previous years, and it’s habitat is endangered with overgrowing. The goal of our activity is to create favorable conditions for Emberiza hortulana on a larger surface, which will hopefully lead to an increase of it’s numbers.

Control and safety of the activity was guaranteed by the Public firefighting unit and 5 local firefighters. We would like to use this opportunity to express our gratitude once again for all of their advices and professionalism, and give a big thank you to our volunteers for supporting us and investing their energy, emotion and free time into nature conservation.

Don’t miss to check our photo gallery below with photos from the activity.


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


foto: Sven Ratković, LAG “Cetinska krajina”


13 questions about controlled burning on Vrdovo

We can finally welcome the start of specific grasslands restoration activities within the project “Dinara back to LIFE”.

In the coming week, the implementation of controlled burning is planned on the pass towards Ravni Vrdovo (above Greda). It will be carried out for the purpose of grassland restoration and as the first of the restoration activities of the project “Dinara back to LIFE”.

Controlled burning will be carried out in cooperation and under the supervision of the Sinj Public Fire Brigade.

Controlled burning will be carried out no later than March 15, and only in favorable weather conditions, without wind, and with the permission of the  Public Fire Service Sinj. The first field trip and the beginning of the activity is planned for February 17, if the conditions for the activity are favorable, according to the expert assessment of the firefighters. Otherwise it will be carried out on a different date, when the weather conditions are appropriate.

“Controlled burning is one of the fire protection measures. We are glad to participate in these activities so that together with the Dinara back to LIFE team we can contribute to the protection of nature, but also to the protection of human lives and property, “said Stipe Ančić, Commander of the Sinj Public Fire Brigade.

Controlled burning will be carried out as the first of the restoration activities of the project “Dinara back to LIFE”, implemented by the Biom Association, in partnership with Croatian Forests, LAG “Cetinska Krajina” and the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zagreb.

In case you notice smoke from the afore mentioned locality [Map 1] on Wednesday, February 17, there is no reason to be upset as it is a coordinated action. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us by phone at 021/274 946, or by email at

Below we give answers to anything that might interest you about controlled burning. And if you have additional questions and want to know more, feel free to contact us!

1. Why can’t you maintain grasslands by grazing or mowing? Why is controlled burning really necessary?

Rocky grasslands, on which controlled burning will be carried out, cannot be mowed because the rocks prevent the use of any tool, from hand mowers to motor mowers. Of course, in the event that a grassland can be mowed, mowing is the preferred method of maintenance, but there are relatively few such grasslands in the project area. As cattle graze selectively, bypassing poisonous, prickly and inedible plant species, so over time such species become more and more abundant and need to be removed in some other way. In the past, such species were removed by hand, because there were many shepherds who removed them while keeping cattle. This area was also affected by the war, which, after many years of non-use and lack of grazing, a pronounced process of shrub encroachment on grasslands is underway and not only do we have to maintain them but first we have to restore their condition to the one they were in years ago, before the process of abandonment started. Burning is the simplest and fastest way of controlling the excessive spread of woody vegetation over larger areas.

2. Why do you want to burn grasslands and not allow them to develop naturally into forest? Should man make interventions in natural processes at all?

The Republic of Croatia has decided to integrate the management of Natura2000 Ecological Network areas, those that are located within forests and forest lands managed by Croatian Forests, with the forest management process, by  developing forest management plans as Ecological Network management plans. The grasslands in question fall into the category of rare and endangered habitat type of the Eastern Adriatic Rocky Pasture of the Epimediterranean Zone, and are one of the conservation targets of this Natura 2000 area. In this case, controlled burning represents the active management od Natura 2000 areas with the aim of halting the loss of biological diversity in the Republic of Croatia.

Allowing natural processes without any intervention is a concept that today is successfully applied only to huge areas with all essential and well-preserved elements of nature. The concept proved wrong in other situations as it often caused extinction of rare species and habitats. European nature, which mostly has lost irreversibly many large animals that maintained habitats by grazing (such as terns, bison, mammoths), is largely well preserved because these animals have been replaced by domestic livestock. The disappearance of domestic livestock without the return of these large herbivores, will results in the conditional development of forest cover with a complete loss of grassland. Also, without grazing, a large amount of dry plant matter that burns easily develops, and fires become more intense. Today’s nature protection tries to achieve all the original diversity of habitats and species through management. A simple example that indicates we can no longer leave all processes to nature is the case were we should not put out naturally occurring fires. Although rare, without human intervention they would burn for days and through huge areas.

Crvene grede, Dinara

3. What do we want to achieve with controlled burning?

With controlled burning, we want to increase the quality of habitats for certain animal and plant species. In the case of the grassland on Vrdovo (above Bitelićka greda, Map 1), it is a strictly protected species garden bunting (Emberiza hortulana). Overgrowing of grasslands causes habitat loss for garden bunting, and this is a species that gladly inhabits recently burned areas as they have a structure of grasslands with sporadic trees. The existing population of garden bunting in this locality is present only on the area that was burned in previous years and we want to enable this population of garden bunting to increase its numbers by burning the neighbouring grassland areas that area affected by overgrowing of woody vegetation. In addition, burning will have a positive effect on pasture management and the increase the possibility of livestock grazing.

4. What is controlled burning? What is the difference between controlled and uncontrolled burning or fire?

In controlled burning, only the target areas under appropriate conditions are burned. In controlled burning within the project “Dinara back to LIFE” only overgrown grasslands are burned during the colder part of the year, when burning affects only the surface layer of the soil without causing deep damage. Areas for controlled burning are selected so as not to endanger forests or, in general, habitat types to which burning is harmful. In the case of uncontrolled burning or fire, areas  for which burning is harmful (eg forests) get affected or, due to summer heat and drought, deep soil damage and erosion occur as a result of the fire.

The fire is devastating for Juniperus while the rest of the larger trees and shrubs survive to a great extent

5. What are the benefits of controlled burning?

Controlled burning, allows the management of a large area with a relatively small work effort, especially for habitats where other management methods are not feasible or cost-effective.

6. What are the risks of controlled burning?

The main risks of controlled burning are the spread of fire to areas that were not the intended for burning and the burning of deeper layers of the soil. Both of these risks are avoided by careful selection of the burning area, a large number of well-prepared participants and the appropriate choice of weather conditions during the controlled burning event.

Field trip with the commander of the Public Fire Brigade Sinj

7. What measures for control, risk mitigation and restriction will you implement?

Controlled burning will be carried out in cooperation with and under the supervision of the Sinj Public Fire Brigade. A filed inspection, carried out on 28th of January 2021, determined that on the selected area there are no problematic natural elements that can pose a danger due to the retention of smouldering fires (such as deep cracks or a deep layer of humus).

The area on which controlled burning is carried out have been selected so that it is partially surrounded by the area of non-overgrown rocky habitats, over which the fire cannot spread easily, which enables an easier human control of the fire.

Additional protection against the spread of fire will be provided by 2 – 4 meters wide paths in the role of fire routes, which partially border the areas where controlled burning is planned, through which the fire cannot spread.

The optimal number of firefighters in the field will be determined by the Sinj Public Fire Brigade through an expert assessment. Participants in the burning activities will be equipped with hand-held burners, and the fire brigade will take care of fire safety and control with appropriate firefighting equipment. The controlled burning activity will take place during daylight hours, and after the cessation of that activity, firefighters will continue to monitor the site until they estimate that the conditions ensure there is no smouldering fire left.

Field tour with the commander of the Public Fire Brigade Sinj

8. Who will carry out the controlled burning on the Dinara?

Controlled burning on Dinara is carried out as part of the “Dinara back to LIFE” project. The leading partner of the project is Biom Association, and the partnership involves Croatian Forests, the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zagreb and the LAG “Cetinska Krajina”.

The Biom Association is in charge of carrying out restoration activities and is responsible for carrying out controlled burning on Dinara. The planning and implementation of activities is carried out with the help of all project partners, and with the support and supervision of the Sinj Public Fire Brigade.

9. What species will you burn? Why will you burn also species that can grow into trees?

On the area that we will burn, there are various woody species: oak, black hornbeam, black ash, juniper, dogwood, buckthorn, but they create a vegetation with a structure of rare shrubs. By burning in winter, we enable the survival of a large part of these individuals, especially larger and taller ones. In this area, our goal is not to achieve a habitat structure completely free of trees and shrubs, but to maintain a grassland with individual trees and shrubs, which is an ideal habitat for garden bunting, but also a more productive pasture.

The burned mosaic habitat on the Dinara, only Juniperus was permanently damaged

10. Is controlled burning used elsewhere in Croatia or in the world?

Controlled burning is a very widespread measure implemented in a large number of countries, from Finland, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Spain, France to the United States and Australia. It is sometimes implemented as a measure for the management of pastures or grasslands, and sometimes as a measure that maintains mosaic structure and biodiversity in large forest areas. In Croatia, controlled burning is currently carried out only on relatively small areas in protected areas such as Krka or Kamenjak in Istria, but also on a large number of private land.

11. Fire produces large amounts of CO2. How do you justify releasing a large amount of CO2 into the atmosphere?

On Dinara, large areas are regularly (and uncontrollably!) burned by fire, which is why a huge amount of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. A particularly large amount is released during forest fires, and in summer fires when the roots of plants and the humus horizon of the soil burn. The long-term goal of the project is to prevent such large amounts of CO2 by grazing (which reduces the amount of dry plant matter) and controlled burning of small areas in winter, when only the surface layer of soil burns, resulting in significantly lower CO2 emissions.

12. Does fire harm wildlife, such as pigs and rabbits? What about the animals that live and feed here?

One of the reasons why controlled burning is carried out in winter in windless weather is that there are no young animals then, and adult individuals easily escape the fire which in winter is slowly spreading. Also, after this type of fire, the herbaceous vegetation is renewed with the first days of spring and the animals soon return to the burned areas in search of new, fresh pasture. Indeed, these type of pasture with lush herbaceous vegetation in renewal, offer species such as hare, even offer more food than the surrounding areas.

Dinara mountain grasslands two months after the fire

13. Can controlled burning be carried out in the Nature Park? Nature park is a category of protection that does not limit such activities, especially if they increase the quality of habitats for important species or habitats. One of the tasks of the Dinara Nature Park is to preserve open habitats and the species that live on them, and we hope that controlled burning will be carried out as an activity of the future manager of the Park area.