We conducted a research on Vrdovo plateau where we used controlled burning in winter 2021 in order to determine differences between the burnt area and the control area.
In February 2021 our first restoration action of its kind, controlled burning was conducted on an area of 7 ha. Our recent research conducted over a year after the restoration activity shows that regarding the flora, the areas are no different. However, visually the difference is significant. The burnt area is visibly greener as it does not contain any old last-year leaves, which also enable uncontrolled burning as they are the dry material that burns.
It was established that younger shoots of woody vegetation dried out. However, the thicker branches ‘survived’ the burning, therefore small shrubs were successfully removed while the larger bushes and trees do not seem to be negatively affected by the burning.
Based on this, we can conclude that controlled burning during the winter months does not negatively impact the grassland or the more mature vegetation that is present, while at the same time it removes the dry biomass, which if not removed regularly, can facilitate devastating summer wildfires.
The clearing of the 100-year-old trail and the beginning of the stone wall restoration has been completed on the slopes of Dinara on the 12th and 13th of March.
In those two days, 50-odd volunteers took part in these actions in order to restore these functional and beautiful examples of the coexistence of man and nature.
The old mountain trail that was cleared and renovated leads from the small village of Glavurdići in Vučipolje east of Lake Peruća to Privija, west of Vrdovo. The trail is an old ‘donkey trail’ which was used to lead cattle from Vučipolje and surrounding villages to Vrdovo. However, with the gradual abandonment of cattle breeding in the area and with the creation of new, easier access paths to Vrdovo plateau, the trail has slowly become overgrown and covered in fallen dry branches. However, a need for renovation was suggested to us last year during our Collaborative Council.
During the mid-March weekend, the trail was completely cleared – all fallen branches have been removed and overgrown vegetation has been trimmed through the entire 2 m width and 2.500 m length of the trail. The width of the trail allows for it to be used also by horses carrying cargo. This kind of trail is also very pleasant and safe for mountaineers and hikers. Approximately, 25 participants took part in this activity during the two days, members of Hunting association Hrvace, Tourist association Hrvace, Local Action Group (LAG) Cetinska krajina, European Solidarity Corps volunteers, local volunteers, as well as volunteers from Split and Zagreb areas, and Biom members.
Simultaneously with the clearing of the trial, the work on renovation of the stone wall on Vrdovo plateau, found on the way to St. Jacob mountain hut, has begun. The stone wall was once used as a plot boundary and to prevent ground erosion but due to rain, snow, and strong winds the wall eventually collapsed. This activity was done under expert guidance by the members of 4 GRADA – DRAGODID association which has been restoring dry stone walls in Croatia for the past 15 years. In addition, members of mountaineering associations St. Jacob, Mosor, Jelinak, and Mareta helped out, as well as European Solidarity Corps volunteers, local volunteers, and Biom members. All in all, around 35 people took part in this activity.
Since the building of the dry stone wall is a very specific method, with its own rules of construction which guarantee their long-term sturdiness, the activity began with a short introduction and lesson delivered by the members of the Dragodid Association in which they presented the method to build and restore the wall. The work that followed was thorough, it prioritized wall durability and sturdiness. Therefore it took a considerable amount of time to restore it to a level where it will stand against harsh weather conditions there. The main aim of this action was to pass on the knowledge about dry stone wall restoration and to raise awareness of this method so it can be preserved as it is a part of local tradition and culture. During this weekend, around 40 meters of the wall was restored. The wall is approximately 50 cm high and 50 cm wide.
In photo-gallery below see how both activites rolled out
The cleared trail opens up this terrain for walkers, hikers, and hunters as well as local cattle breeders for sustainable use. Restoring the stone wall preserves this traditional and painstakingly hard building method, used for centuries by local people, to bring the exposed poor-quality local soil to use.
We want to thank our volunteers for their involvement and the time they spent for this common good. We’re also thankful for the lovely time we had and we are looking forward to future opportunities like this!
This event was organized by Dinara back to LIFE project partners, Hunting association Hrvace, mountaineering association St. Jacob – Bitelić, and 4 GRADA – DRAGODID Association.
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