The main projects

Project "Meatball" to Encourage Sustainable Farming (2011 - 2013)

The project "Meatball" aims at encouraging sustainable farming in order to reduce the impact of agricultural sector on the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea.

The greatest threat that the Baltic Sea is facing is eutrophication caused by an increase in the amount of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) in its waters. This increase leads to a dense growth of algae, the decay of which depletes the supplies of oxygen in the Baltic Sea. To prevent the eutrophication, the Lithuanian Fund for Nature, in cooperation with the World Wide Fund for Nature, will be carrying out the project "Meatball" throughout the years of 2011 2013. Lithuanian farmers and an appointed organization, i.e. the Lithuanian Fund for Nature, will set up model farms that will serve as models for other farms on how to reduce eutrophication and increase biodiversity. Meanwhile, the farmers themselves will reap some benefits from an ecological point of view.

An intensive drainage of marshes and the straightening of riverbeds in the Baltic Sea Basin have led an intense spread of eutrophication, but the largest amount of nutrients leak into the Baltic Sea from the agricultural sector. One of the possible solutions is to apply more environmentally friendly farming methods that would prevent large amounts of materials from leaking into the Baltic Sea. As laid out in the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, another path is a restoration of marshes because they are multifunctional ecosystems that are able not only to arrest nutrients but also provide and sustain an abundant biodiversity. In tandem with its partners in the Baltic countries, the World Wide Fund for Nature will work toward the development of environmentally friendly agriculture and the restoration of marshes.

The farms participating in the project will resort to three major methods in the reduction of eutrophication:

■    Set up in the Juodabalė Zoological-Herpetological Reserve of the Meteliai Regional Park, a young farmer’s farm will convert the arable land into half-natural meadows that will be used for raising beef cattle. There, biomass will be used for cattle’s fodder and bedding. Once a business plan is prepared, the high-quality beef that is produced in an environmentally friendly way will be certified and sold as a product of exceptionally good quality. Within the territory of the farm, the farmer will also maintain marshes, keep grazing land, and engage in hay-making and cutting down of trees and bushes.

■    One of the largest upland moor in Lithuania is Žuvintas, the territory of which contains a lot of biomass. In cooperation with the Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve, we will assess the possibility of extracting energy and the other alternatives for the use of the biomass.

■    While cutting down bushes and reeds and extracting biomass from the Nemunas Delta, we will restore meadows [Kai kuriose ES dokumentuose buvo dažnai vartojamas terminas “grasslands”, bet aš pasirinkau “meadows” (“pievos”)]. In the course of this project, we will try to regulate the level of water in the Uostadvaris polder meadows (peat meadows). In summertime the water will be kept in the meadows for much longer so that its nutrients are arrested, making the meadows more fertile. Additionally, in the very same area set aside by “Natura 2000” (an EU-wide network of nature protection areas), we will raise the Hereford beef cattle breed and sell its meat as “green meat,” i.e. as coming from the ecologically raised cattle.

This project seeks to create such an agricultural model that would be ecologically and economically developed and beneficial and would allow communicating with farmers and other intermediaries about the practices of good farming. Such practices should show how the methods proposed could be adopted on a concrete farm. Moreover, the knowledge, experience, and possible solutions collected in the course of the project will be shared with the Lithuanian government and other relevant institutions. Exemplary projects will be undertaken by Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.