Hortobágy National Park
University of Debrecen
EU LIFE-programme


1. Grassland fragmentation
Agricultural cultivation spatially separates grasslands and marshes, leading to fragmentation (small habitat patches, invasive species, degradation, barriers). Please see the satellite image or a map of land use of the area in 2003.

2. Chemical use on arable lands
Fertilisers and pesticides reach the rehabilitated marshes by infiltration or run-off from arable lands, leading to degradation (eutrophication, weeds, generalist species).

3. Grassland degradation by goose farming
Goose farms seriously damage native grasslands due to trampling, overgrazing and faeces by domestic geese (native flora vanishes, acidification).

4. Suboptimal grazing
Lack of grazing leads to the build-up of dead plant material and vegetation homogenisation, and to the elimination of short-grass habitats of several rare animals.

5. Marsh homogenisation
Constant water supply has led to vegetation homogenisation, reduced plant diversity and fewer nesting waterbirds.

6. Shortage of feeding and nesting sites for Annex I birds
The breeding of several Annex I birds (raptors and waterbirds) is limited by the low abundance of prey species and/or shortage of suitable nesting sites.




The project aims to restore grasslands and protect the marshes already rehabilitated. Specific aims are to:

1. Establish ecological corridors and buffer zones in key areas by land purchase and by transforming ca. 700 ha arable lands into loess steppic grasslands or salt steppes to reduce fragmentation and chemical infiltration.

2. Purchase and convert goose farms and surrounding lands to sheep-farming.

3. Create wooded areas in key areas to prevent chemical infiltration and provide nesting sites for birds.

4. Allocate grazing to unmanaged native grasslands.

5. Open up homogeneous reedbeds by grazing and fire management.

6. Extensively cultivate croplands to enhance small mammals and game for Annex I birds of prey.

7. Develop management plans and biologically monitor habitat-based actions, especially grassland restoration and wooded area creation.

8. Raise public awareness to grassland and marsh conservation and to the Natura 2000 network.