1. About the project

Project title: Conservation management tools for increasing structural and compositional biodiversity in Natura2000 oak forests.


1.1. General info

The biodiversity of oak forests is declining as a result of intensive human use. With the nature conservation interventions of the LIFE4OAK FORESTS project, our goal is to reverse this process. The project aims to promote the regeneration of the forests and to restore the diversity of forest structure, native tree species composition and micro habitats. As a results, the protected forest mammals, birds, insects, plants and fungi will be preserved and their populations will increase. The project is co-financed by the European Union's LIFE program.

1.2. Base data and Financial information

Project period: 2017. 07. 01 - 2026. 12. 31.
Total project budget: 7,980,586 €
EU financial contribution: 73.87% (5,895,289 €)
Co-financing contribution: 8.89% (709,405 €)
Coordinating Beneficiary: MAR
Associated beneficiaries: BfNPD, BNPD, DINPD, MTA Ecological RC, ETTE, WWF
Co-financier: Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture

1.3. Objectives

  1. This project aims to identify the natural oak forest conditions what should be the target of the nature
    conservation management because there is not any natural oak forest left in Hungary and Italy.
  2. This project aims to increase the biodiversity of EU priority oak forests (*91AA, *91G0, *91H0, *91I0) & 91M0 in the National Parks' managed protected Natura 2000 sites. In Hungary about 1555 ha and in Italy about 511 ha will be restored by the project and will provide guidance for about another 21 500 ha peotected oak forests in Natura 2000 areas in Hungary and about another 180500 ha in Italy.
  3. This project also aims the suppression of invasive species. In Hungary about in 50 ha, in Italy about in 30 ha invasive species will be eliminated and the areas will be converted back to oak forests.
  4. This project aims to demonstrate the best practices of the oak forests nature conservation management too. Altogether there are nearly 21500 ha protected oak forests managed by the national parks in Natura 2000 areas in Hungary and about 180 500 ha in Italy and the project will demonstrate for the nature conservation managers of those areas the best practice how to manage them.
  5. This project also aims to increase the public awareness about the importance of the forests'
    biodiversity. Although the forestry is not an economic issue in Hungary but until now the economic importance was mainly communicated.

1.4. Actions

This project will focus on the reconstruction of natural forest condition by collecting and examining scientific papers and residual natural forests, and the examination of the nature conservation treatments carried out until now. Elaboration of the ecological nature conservation forest management guideline based on the reconstructed natural forest image.

Oak forests will be purchased for securing the biodiversity of the area.

Nature conservation forest management will be implemented on Natura 2000 project areas managed by national parks by reconstructing the natural forest structure, reducing game impact and suppressing invasive species according to the elaborated guideline.

(A2, D1)
The effect of forest management and detection of the effects of treatments will be
monitored according to the elaborated monitoring protocol.

(D2 and D4)
The ecosystem functions restoration and the social-economic impact will be assessed.

An intensive awareness-raising will be carried out for stakeholders and for the general public: There will be presentations and field demonstrations for the stakeholders of concerned sites and for forestry teachers and students; collection, elaboration and publication of technologies can be used in the management of oak forests; publications about the developed management guideline and the results of their ecological nature conservation management according to the monitoring, guidelines for the forest habitat development (for land users) on the potential oak habitats and ecosystem services for professionals. There will be intensive networking with other projects and specialist working with forests'nature conservation. An international conference will be organised to evaluate and share results and experience of the project. (E1)
Project website will be designed and operated; information signs will be erected at the project sites;
Layman's report among different materials will be prepared to secure public support for the general public. Media will be informed about project’s aims, activities and achievements.

1.5. Stakeholders involved and target audience

1.5.1. In Hungary:
The project will be implemented mainly on public lands. Those land owners are the stakeholders who are willing to sell their forest for the government to serve nature conservation under the management the national park. The MoUs of them are among the attachments. The national parks will arrange guided tours there upon request from the tourist sector or from the civil society. The local communities are also supporting the project, since local peoples and companies will be involved in the implementation and also because the environmental condition (water and air) of their environment will be improved. Local communities are also believes that especially in the NE region where the unemployment is high it would attract green tourists what can provide income for the villagers.

1.5.2. In Italy:
The intervention on forests is interesting also by tourist and safety point of view. About tourism, the oak forests are typical local landscape, more appreciated than the artificial pine forests by the foreigner tourists (which are about the 50% of the local tourists). About the mountain safety, the natural oak forests are better in holding the slopes and in preventing landslides (e.g. De Capua et al., 2005) and they are really less dangerous for accidental fires (e.g. Regione Piemonte, 2011); this is well known by the local Mayors, as responsible for public safety.
National Parks: all staff other than project participants working on Natura 2000 oak forest areas i.e. foresters, botanists, zoologists, district managers, rangers are stakeholders.
Forestry & nature conservation authorities: are stakeholders in national and in the concerned regional levels but target audience in the other regional levels.
State Forest Enterprises: foresters are stakeholders and/or target audiences
Private forest owners and privete forests' managers
Forestry teachers and students: are target audience.
Research institutions: are stakeholders.
NGOs: are stakeholders.
Local communities, municipalities: are stakeholders and/or target audiences
General public: is target audience.

1.6. Expected results and outputs

  1. The natural oak forest condition is reconstructed as a standard for nature conservation management of oak forests
  2. The ecological nature conservation oak forests management guideline elaborated and published (700 copies in English, Hungarian and Italian) with the result of its application by the project
  3. 43.52 ha forest habitats in Hungary and 40 ha in Italy purchased
  4. About 2,066 ha protected oak forests (1,555 ha in Hungary and 511 ha in Italy) managed according to the elaborated nature conservation management guideline in 24 project areas (19 in Hungary 5 in Italy). As a result of this kind of management the forest structure will be improved towards more natural one, lying and standing dead wood are present in all areas. The biodiversity of the project areas are increased
  5. About 95 ha forests are fenced around to eliminate game's damages
  6. The invasive tree species are eliminated on 80 ha (50 ha in Hungary and 30 ha in Italy) others may suppressed in the project areas
  7. Eleven presentations and field demonstrations held for 315 stakeholders (working on concerned sites, forestry teachers and students)
  8. Publications: of guidelines for the forest habitat development on the potential oak habitats 500 copies and about the ecosystem services (500 copies) in three languages
  9. International conference organised to evaluate and share results and experience of the project
  10. The general public's awareness raised towards the importance of Natura 2000 sites and nature conservation of oak forests by the project web page, 25 information signs, 5 minutes interactive movie, 300 copies of forest atlas, 500 copies and online materials for kids, information materials and regular media news.