Protection of species and habitats in the national natural reserve Devinska Kobyla in Slovakia

The project was realized in cooperation with the Slovak partner organization DAPHNE and financial support of the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), cofinanced by a EU-Life-project in Slovakia.Devinska Kobyla in Slovakia is region of inland dunes with a species rich heath and steppe vegetation. This habitat is threatened by being overgrown by bushes and trees, and reafforestation. The aim of the project therefore was conservation of the original vegetation via restoration i.e. taking out non-typic bushes and trees and re-introduction of a grazing regime.In Slovakia up to now there have never been performed management measures for the conservation of thermophilic plant communities in a scale like in this project.The first step for restoration of 20 ha of degraded xerothermic biotops was taking out bushes and trees to create the basis for the conservation of plant species adapted to warm and dry sandy habitats. In order to determine where exactly and to which extent bushes had to be removed and grazing had to be installed a restoration management plan was developed. The effect of measures had to be monitored in specific areas. For grazing a herd of sheep and goats is now used and a long term contract with a local shepherd was installed.Taking into account the high number of local visitors from the nearby capital Bratislava the project developed a concept to involve both German and Slovak private enterprises into conservation efforts. This will secure the long term conservation of the area beyond the project phase and helped to rise the public understanding for the need to conserve fragile thermophilic vegetation habitats. All private owners, administrations and communities were involved since the project planning to guarantee a high ownership of the restoration measures by all stakeholders. Overall, 58 hectares of grasland could be restored by the project.