Oreka mendian Life Project


To develop a preservation strategy in mountain pasture environments, beginning with maintaining its traditional use.

To seek balance between preservation interests and the interests of mountain users

5 years: September 2016 – November 2021 (extended until December 2022).

3.743.704 euros

60% (2.246.223 euros)

  • HAZI Fundazioa
  • Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa
  • Provincial Council of Biscay
  • Provincial Council of Alava
  • Neiker Teknalia
  • Euromontana
  • Euskal Herriko Laborantza Ganbara
  • Conservatoire dÉspaces Naturels dÁquitaine

Euskadi: Planning, implementation of actions and monitoring at 15 Natura 2000 Sites.
Iparralde: Monitoring at 8 Natura 2000 Sites.

General Objective

The main objective of the LIFE OREKA MENDIAN project is to develop a shared strategy to manage mountain pasture areas in the 15 Natura 2000 sites in Euskadi, and the 8 Special Preservation Zones (ZEC) in Iparralde, seeking out a balance between preservation interests and the interests of mountain users.  This project will lay the foundations so that these mountain pastures, highly endangered spaces in Europe, are managed in such a way so as to guarantee their preservation, and the preservation of the habitats and species that coexist with them.

Preservation issues in these zones mainly stem from no longer being used as grazing zones. This lack of use means that natural habitats, traditionally used by the extensive livestock in Euskadi, are in unfavourable states of preservation: brush development, establishment of invasive species, increased risk of possible fire, etc.

Given this situation, the LIFE OREKA MENDIAN project’s objective is to develop a preservation strategy, with maintenance of the traditional use given to pastureland as a starting point, seeking a balance between the forage supply in these spaces and usage demands held by livestock operators. To do so, owners, users, natural space managers, experts and local players will be involved in integrated and sustainable management of the mountain pastures.

Specific objectives

A recent report from the European Commission indicates insufficient grazing as one of the main problems affecting land resources on the continent, and in the case of the Basque Country, the state of preservation of the habitats used by extensive livestock is unfavourable.

The OREKA MENDIAN project has set the following specific objectives to alleviate this situation and regain a favourable state for the grazing spaces:

  • Establish management criteria for the habitats and species to improve efficiency and coordination between all players involved.
  • Ensure that the preservation objectives defined in each ZEC are met, by planning livestock management.
  • Reach a balance between the forage supply of the pastures and livestock use demand.
  • Recover surface, structure and functionality of the habitats where zones altered by thickets, over-grazing or individual impacts are detected.
  • Reach a balance between livestock and forestry use, limiting grazing to zones where risks are minimised for forest regeneration or soil erosion.
  • Recover vulnerable habitats and endangered flora species.
  • Eliminate invasive flora.
  • Test tools that facilitate management of these zones and provide data to monitor their state of preservation.
  • Establish a guide of good practises to facilitate decision-making for managers when authorising uses and actions.
  • Communicate the socio-economic and environmental interest of preserving these zones and of maintaining grazing to society.
  • Exchange experiences with European regions that use different management models for zones in the Red Natura 2000.