Successful closing of The Hungarian-Croatian project called “Oak protection”

Mecsekerdő Zrt., in cooperation with Nasice Forestry Co. of the Croatian State forestry Company held on 11 June the closing conference of the Croatian-Hungarian project called “Protection of the English oak in the cross-border region – Oak protection”.

At the event held in the Seedling Nursery of Gajic, partners and experts participating in the project shared the experiences of the cooperation with the interested audience. The project was awarded with the “good practice” title by the Regional and Urban Development Directorate of the European Commission.

Executive of the Nasice Forestry, Vlado Keglevic greeted participants and emphasised that the samples and data collected by the project can now be used by the forestries and the partners, and there is an evident need for the continuation of the joint work. He also mentioned in addition the importance of sustainable forest management and the prudent utilisation of the resources from the Union.

Andrea Kakas, programme manager of the HUHR Joint Secretariat mentioned, besides general background information, that a total of 157 tenders were submitted to the second call for projects by the Interreg V-A Hungary-Croatia Cooperation Programme, the checking of which had already been started. She also told the audience that the Oak protection project was awarded support in the first tendering cycle, amidst strong competition.

On the part of the lead partner Milán Kiss, project manager of the Mecsekerdő Inc. introduced the details of the already successfully finished project. The project activities built upon each other served one common purpose, the protection of the lowland oak forests and the indigenous tree species, the preservation of forest ecosystems.

For the realisation of these goals, during the twenty-two month project period a subsoil water monitoring system consisting of sixty wells was created, supplemented by seven automated meteorology stations, providing up-to-date information about one of the most significant factors of forest management: precipitation.

The other selected objective of the project as the mapping and suppression of invasive ligneous plant species: on the Hungarian side more than 150 hectares of forest areas were freed from tree-of-heaven, black locust and the plant species causing the biggest problem: false indigo. Parallel to this, the mapping of the invasive species also took place in the territory of the Nasice Forestry.

The project was supported by the Interreg Programme, within the priority of nature protection. Nature protection efforts can be seen in the technologies applied in the project, on the one hand (e.g.: injection), and it was a goal, on the other hand, to restore original habitats which creates the ecological conditions for protected plant and insect species that were formerly suppressed by false indigo.

During the implementation the project partners placed great emphasis on the socialisation of the project results as well, not only as regards experts but also the inhabitants. The mobile application developed for the reporting of invasive species was supplemented with functions reaching a wider target group than in the original plans, with an introduction to the values of the Dráva Plain to be protected, and also the threatening ligneous invasive species. It also contains news, recommended forest programmes and maps. The application will be downloadable soon (for both Android iOS platforms).

In addition, a brochure is made for the inhabitants about the invasive species, and the experts will be able to use detailed methodological guidelines concerning the suppression of the invasive plants.

Ivan Pilas from the Croatian Forest Research Institute demonstrated the results of subsoil water monitoring and the WEB GIS system. As regards subsoil water, a lot of data had already been collected and analysed by the Institute since the early 2000s, the results were demonstrated at several professional forums, and the cost-effective methods for the measurement of subsoil water level was sought.

The sustainability of the monitoring system that they operate has been questioned several times, so they recommended the construction of an automatic system – for which they found a partner and resource in the Oak Protection project. On the basis of the dynamic data collection of the new system, they get a complex picture of the movements and characteristics of the subsoil water, which can also address the issue of preparation for drier periods.

The data of the measurement stations are available for all on the WEB GIS platform equipped with maps and filters, at the site.
According to the plans it will be supplemented by a satellite observation system under development for the time being, which will allow the monitoring of the changes of the vegetation in the future.
Márton Korda from the University of Sopron held a presentation on the protection of forest ecosystems and the suppression of invasive plant species, and also demonstrated the damage that the invasive species do to nature protection, economy and human health. He mentioned the fact that already ten years ago the costs of protection were approximately 12 billion € in the European Union, then he cited a new research of Hungarian nature protection according to which the biggest risk among all factors threatening biodiversity is the penetration of invasive plants.

From among the techniques applied he demonstrated different mechanical and chemical procedures.

A result of special significance is the 155 hectares that was freed from invasive species during the project, and another project result going beyond the boundaries of the project area is the methodology worked out for the suppression of false indigo, about which the experiences are rather deficient so far.

Stjepan Dekanic as an external expert to the Koska Forestry spoke about the possibilities of adaptive forest management applied in the stocks of oak of the forestry company. Of all territories managed by the forestry company, 75% is made by relatively old forests of English oak. In addition to the examination of the extension of the oak forests, the analysis of the data concerning the precipitation and temperature relevant of the territory and the data of the measurements of soil layers and subsoil water level, they will attempt to model the consequences of climate change, for which they used LIDAR technology as well. He stated that besides the increase of mean temperatures, extremely wet and too dry periods are both expected. This all forecasts the increased importance of water management activity. He believes that the study made can also be used in the practice of forest management, e.g. for the decision about what territories will be suitable in the future for the plantation of oak forests. He said we were facing a period full of challenges, the respective areas has a lot of old forests, older than optimum from an economic sense, and so the rejuvenation of the forests must be secured.

Finally a presentation was held by Natasa Rap, project manager of the Nasice Forestry Company, about the applicability of the project findings. She revealed to the audience the general experience that the community of foresters was a closed circle in certain respect, making it more difficult to the wider audience to have information about their work. This is why she found such projects with attitude shaping impact important, through which the inhabitants too can get a comprehensive picture about forest management activities. She emphasised the availability of all results for everyone at the website of the project, and that they could also be used even for the purposes of academic researches.

She placed great emphasis on the fact that project was awarded with the prestigious “good practice” title of the Regional and Urban Development Directorate of the European Commission.

Finally she spoke about the future continuation of the cooperation made within the partnership frameworks, for which the preparatory negotiations have already been made. They would like to extend researches to other indigenous species; also, water management actions on the basis of the research findings are expected.


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