Guidelines for dry grassland restoration and sustainable management

Even though the project Dinara back to LIFE finished in November of last year, we are delighted to share with you the Guidelines for dry grassland restoration and sustainable management.

The document includes our practical experiences of carrying out restoration as well as instructions and an overview of the restoration process, and was created in collaboration and with the support of experts from various fields and professions. We hope that the Guidelines will be interesting and useful, primarily to the managers of protected areas.

Activity calendar-home News

Visit by LIFE Program Representatives

Last week “Dinara back to LIFE” had a joint visit with the representative of CINEA (The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency), our project advisor Mr. Joseph van der Stegen and project monitor Mr. Nikica Skroza from ELMEN EEIG. The project visit was an opportunity to make a review of the project activities, to discuss implementation results and challenges, draw policy lessons from the project, and discuss crucial activities for reporting and the After-LIFE plan.

Project manager Tomislav Hudina from Association Biom was delighted to take a presenting role and give a summary of project activities, their implementation and achieved results. The joint visit was an opportunity to discuss:

  • Grassland restoration activities and evaluation of their impact
  • Current status of target habitats and effects of extensive grazing
  • Restoration of grazing infrastructures: wells, ponds, paths and stonewall structures

Since Dinara back to LIFE is in the final phase, continuation of project activities (After LIFE plan) was also discussed, and project team presented crucial activities for continuation of activities, initiatives and communication started by the project.

The project advisor Mr. van der Stegen was very interested in learning more about the logic behind grassland restoration intervention and getting to know the situation in the local community.  The “Dinara back to LIFE” project team is very satisfied with the achieved results and the ecological impact on key habitats. Also, the project had a meaningful impact for the community (a.o. farmers and beekeepers) but also at the policy and decision-making levels.

It is really a unique opportunity to have CINEA and ELMEN EEIG representatives visiting the project and giving their feedback and perspective on the project implementation and on the broader policy context as well. CINEA highlighted the fact that the project has experimented promising grassland conservation measures that also bring benefits to the stakeholders. LIFE program is one of the best programs for nature conservation. We are very satisfied with the results of our restoration activities, but also with the social and policy impact of the project.  LIFE offers a certain flexibility which is almost always necessary in nature conservation, especially regarding longer projects.

The project advisor and project monitor joint visit gave our team positive energy and motivation as we are organizing our final deliverables and events to complete the project implementation.


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. 

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.

Dnevnik Dinare News

Report – the first two years of the Dinara back to LIFE project

Two years of the Dinara back to LIFE project have come to an end, and the activities performed and started during this period are presented in a short overview photo report.

The project started in January 2020 and in these two years, we have gathered the Advisory Council and the Collaborative Council, as stakeholders who guide and expand the project activities with advice and suggestions.

Our fieldwork included research on habitats, grasslands, insects and locusts, as well as more extensive scientific field research.

In 2021, the major restoration cycle has been launched that, we believe, will show major changes and results in the field by the end of the project period. Part of the restoration cycle was the volunteer-educational camp, one of the project highlights of the year.

Renovation of wells, ponds and dry stone walls is part of a project to help bring back the infrastructure to its purpose.

We are extremely proud of the exhibition that accompanies the project, as well as our educational workshops with children.

For the tull photo report of Dinara back to LIFE 2020-2021 browse the PDF at the link below –


The Dinara back to LIFE project received the Yellow Frame Award for Sustainable Agriculture!

The Dinara back to LIFE project received the prestigious Yellow Frame award in the category “Eradicating hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture”, at last week’s award ceremony held in Zagreb. The Yellow Frame Awards were divided into 17 categories according to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the award ceremony itself was held under the slogan “Sustainable Croatia – Live and act in harmony with nature today”. The Yellow Frame Award for Sustainable Development, Science and Education is awarded by Adria Media Zagreb and National Geographic Croatia.

“We gain with your work, your genius, we want you to continue to inspire us with your work” – the editor in chief of National Geographic Croatia, Hrvoje Prćić 17 said in his introductory speech, thanking and congratulating all the nominees and winners. In 17 categories with three nominees in each, the nominated were individuals and organizations that fight for a better world in various ways – protection and research of the sea, waste management, organic farming, renewable energy, protection of endangered birds, helping the people in need and many others who want a more sustainable tomorrow. At the awards ceremony, editor Prćić also emphasized that he considers the nominees and winners of the Yellow Frame Awards to be real “influencers” in today’s society.

Tomislav Hudina, project manager

One of the main activities of the project is certainly aimed at nature conservation through sustainable use, which in practice means that our goal is to encourage the development of extensive cattle-breeding, beekeeping and other activities that contribute to maintaining Dinaric grasslands and improving habitat conditions for many wild species dependent on large open habitats. Through the project, in addition to restoring grassland by removing unwanted woody vegetation, we also restore ponds, wells, dry stone walls and roads, organize round tables and trainings, develop business plans for farmers, improve the tourist infrstructure. We are also trying to improve grasslands management practices through cooperation with relevant institutions and development of guidelines for dry grassland management. We hope that the results of the project will be more cattle-breeders and more livestock in larger areas under grasslands, more pairs of target birds, more successful family farms, a wider tourist offer – a revived Dinara!

The winners and the nominees

The deserving for the Yellow Frame award are all members of the project partnership – Croatian Forestry, LAG Cetinska Krajina, Faculty of Agriculture University of Zagreb and the Biom Association as the leading partner – but also project associates from various sectors. We thank the representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of economy and sustainable development from the project Advisory Council who direct the project, as well as members of the Cooperation Council – hunters, mountaineers, tourism workers, beekeepers, local government, partner associations and individuals who expand the project with their proposals and ideas. We thank all the volunteers who participated in the Dinara camp and in the activities carried out so far through the project and all the others who helped and are still doing so to help carry out the project as intended and to achieve its fundamental goal – preserving nature through sustainable use.

We would also like to thank Adria Media Zagreb and National Geographic Croatia for this award for recognizing and rewarding our will and motivation and desire for sustainability on the Dinara. The Yellow Frame Award obliges us to continue the project at least at this pace, and hopefully stronger!

In conversation with Robert Kakarigi, the member of the Yellow Frame awards jury

It is interesting to note that the Biom Association received the Yellow Frame Award in 2019 in the Life on Land category, so this new recognition is even more dear to us, because winning the award once may be a coincidence, but twice is a pattern, so it is an additional confirmation, recognition and an incentive for us to be even better.