Estimation of forage value of dry grasslands on Dinara mountain based on the analysis of botanical composition

Our project team members from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture presented some results of field research done as a part of the Dinara back to LIFE project at the 57th Croatian and 17th International Symposium on Agriculture in Vodice.

Data collected during botanical field studies conducted by the employees of BIOM Association on grasslands in Validžići, Ježević, and Vrdovo were used to estimate the forage value of these grasslands using the „Complex method“ for evaluation of the quality and total value of grasslands and leys.

The „Complex method“ takes into account the botanical composition of grassland, the weight share of plants, and many other factors that can affect the forage quality of a plant such as poisonousness, digestibility, plants’ morphology, chemical composition, etc. Based on its characteristics, a plant is sorted into one of categories (from „very noxious“ to „excellent“). Coefficients corresponding to each category are used in calculating the total value of grasslands. Quality index is a summary of multiples of coefficients and plants’ weight shares.

Prof. Kutnjak and associates

The forage value of a grassland tells us whether it’s appropriate for pasture and forage production and if amelioration methods should be used to improve its quality.

Our results have shown that grasslands in Validžići and Ježević had significantly higher quality than those in Vrdovo which is probably connected to the high weight share of species of the genus Sesleria on Vrdovo grasslands. On average, grasslands in Validžići had the highest quality indices.

The complete article by Kutnjak et al. can be found on the following link –

Link to the poster presented on the Symposium –


First insight into the status of grasslands in the payments support system in the area of Dinara Nature park

During the 57th Croatian and 17th International Symposium on Agriculture, which took place in June in Vodice, the members of our team from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture presented interesting results of research done as a part of our project.

Doc. dr. sc. Hrvoje Kutnjak had a presentation on the status of grasslands in the payment support system in Dinara Nature Park. The data used in this study was taken from ARKOD – land parcel identification system managed by the Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development (PAAFRD; Croatian: APPRRR).

Spatial analyses carried out in geographic information system (GIS) showed that ARKOD plots of karst pastures and meadows cover around 5000 ha of Dinara mountain (about 8% of the area of Dinara Nature Park). More than 55% of areas of ARKOD plots are situated lower than 500 meters above sea level. Most of the plots are located between 300 m.s.l. and 400 m.s.l. The situated plots are located between 1200 m.s.l. and 1300 m.s.l. where an average plot has an area of 12.5 ha. It was also determined that slope is a limiting factor for the use of plots as pastures.

These are the first spatial analyses of karst pastures and meadows in Dinara Nature Park and the results should contribute to the future management of the Park.

The whole article by prof. Kutnjak and associates, taken from the Proceeding of the Symposium, can be found on the following link –

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Lecture: How much CO2 was emitted during the Dinara wildfires of 2017 and 2020?

At the recent 57th Croatian & 17th International Symposium on Agriculture in Vodice, members of our project team from the Faculty of Agriculture University of Zagreb presented their estimate of carbon dioxide (CO2) released in the 2017 and 2020 wildfires on Dinara. The results of the study were presented during the poster session.

CO2, a greenhouse gas, is the largest contributing factor to global warming and in 2021 record CO2 emissions caused by wildfires were broken in many parts of the world, including the Mediterranean.

In this study, doc. dr. sc. Hrvoje Kutnjak, prof. dr. sc. Josip Leto and assistant Lucija Rajčić tried to estimate CO2 emissions from the biomass samples collected during our project at Dinara mountain by making an approximation of the total biomass burned during the two wildfires and multiplying this with the CO2 emission factor for biomass burning.

Using Sentinel-2 satellite images, the areas affected by  the August 2017 and April 2020 wildfires were identified. Using the geographic information system (GIS), the size of the area was measured. The area affected by the 2017 wildfire was estimated at 64 km2, and by the 2020 wildfire at around 62 km2.

Graph: Red – the area affected by the 2020 wildfire; yellow – 2017 wildfire

Biomass samples collected at the burned area as part of our project were used to approximate the total biomass burned in these wildfires. Finally, the estimated mass of emitted CO2 was obtained by multiplying the total biomass with the CO2 emission factor. It was estimated that more than 11,500 tons of CO2 were emitted in the 2017 wildfire, and approximately 11,000 tons of CO2 in the 2020 wildfire.

The calculated amounts aren’t exact, they are an approximation. This is the first time a similar method was used for grasslands in Croatia. The estimated emissions are just an approximation but we hope to refine the method in the future. A more detailed description of the study can be found on the poster below –

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A new research has begun – exclusion cages set on Dinara

Professors Hrvoje Kutnjak and Josip Leto and assistant Lucija Rajčić from the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zagreb have recently set up so-called “exclusion cages”, as part of research for our project.

Prof Kutnjak on the field

These roller cages are about a meter and a half in diameter and one meter high, constructed of wire mesh, and attached to the ground. Their purpose is to prevent livestock from accessing this excluded piece of lawn. In this way, the set of grassland is preserved locally as well as the growth of plants. This method ultimately provides experts with the possibility of better insight into the botanical composition and productivity of grasslands in the project area.

Cages prevent grazing on the excluded section of the grassland

A total of six cages have been set up, four of which are in Ježević dry grassland, while two are in the Podinarje area near Kijevo. The cages are marked with leaflets with a message asking random passers-by not to touch the cages and thus help the research conducted in the Dinara area.

This year we plan to set-up additional cages. The results obtained will give a better insight into the utilization of grassland’s natural resource as well as new knowledge useful for grassland management in protected areas.