Urbancows project in Pärnu
Hiking trail and birdwatching towers on Pärnu coastal meadows
The coastal meadow complex of Pärnu town is located next to the public beach and very close to the summer resort centre and the apartments of local residents. This protected coastal area in the heart of the most famous Estonian summer vacation overgrew with reed after traditional grazing of livestock stopped here in the 1970s–80s. It was necessary to reintroduce traditional cattle grazing which is a challenge in an urban environment. Using cattle for managing protected coastal meadows in such an urban environment is not impossible but needs large investments and commitment of several stakeholders.
The general aim of the URBANCOWS project (2012–2016) was to improve the conservation status of the coastal meadow and coastal lagoon habitat complex in Pärnu Coastal Meadow Nature Reserve. It was achieved by clearing approximately 300 hectares from reed and bushes followed by the reintroduction of cattle grazing, traditional management in Pärnu coastal meadow and lagoon habitat complex. Another goal was raising the awareness of both the local community as well as the visitors of Pärnu town about the nature values of the protected area and attract people to visit this area. During the project the infrastructure necessary for grazing (fences, shelters, etc.) and attractive for visitors (information boards, observation towers, nature trail) was established together with preparing the area for the continuous management in the future. The coastal meadow complex of Pärnu regained its historical appearance, popularity among visitors and favourable conservation status during the project.
The project was implemented under the coordination of the Environmental Board and financed by the European Commission. Additional funding was provided by the Environmental Investment Centre, Pärnu City Government and the University of Tartu Pärnu College.
Authors: Raili Hurt (architect), Siim Randmäe (structural engineer)
Photo Credit: Photo 1,2 Erge Jogela, Photo 3,4 Panu Linnavalitsus