Millions for local partnership at Mariager Fjord

Grazing cattle in protected nature provides sustainable nature conservation and economic incentives for farmers and landowners. “Nature - a profitable part of agriculture”, a project supported by VILLUM FONDEN and VELUX FONDEN with DKK 8 million will try to show that it can in fact be good business to protect valuable natural areas.

The purpose of the project is to show how to create big natural areas that can be profitable for the production of high quality cattle.

Mariagerfjord Kommune, Naturstyrelsen Himmerland, Agri Nord, LMO and Nordic Beef will spearhead the project. The project will run for the next 5 years and it will connect some of Denmark´s most attractive natural resorts for the benefit of nature and the local farmers. This will create new opportunities for the farmers to develop their enterprises.

The project is locally entrenched in the area at Mariager Fjord, and the fundamental basis of the project will be the local nature, the local farmers and a local slaughterhouse.

The project will address a key challenge for nature conservation in Denmark, that the protected areas with rich flora and fauna are relatively small and few. In fact, Denmark is the EU country with the lowest percentage of protected natural areas, namely just 8 percent.
“In this country, our valuable natural areas are usually small. Therefore, it makes sense that we connect natural areas to make space for plants and animals to develop. A good way to do that is to create large natural areas, where e.g. beef cattle can graze all year. This will prevent our meadows, marshes and pastures from growing over”, says biologist Rasmus Fuglsang Frederiksen from Mariagerfjord´s Municipality.

As part of the project, a sustainable production of food products will be developed and marketed based on the cattle that contribute to the maintenance of the natural areas. The slaughterhouse Nordic Beef in Hadsund will participate and help develop the concept.

Mariagerfjord Municipality sees great potential in the project. “What is special for the project is that the development and care of our unique natural areas go hand in hand with a sustainable business that benefits farmers and landowners. This is a good example of how we can elevate our local area when public authorities and private operators work together to find new solutions. We believe that this is the way forward for nature conservation and all the stakeholders will see that it can be a good business to protect nature”, says Jørgen Ussing, Nature and Environment Manager, Mariagerfjord Municipality.
The agricultural advisors from Agri North and LMO will guide the landowners. “The project is based on voluntariness and therefore requires a close dialogue with local stakeholders. We are going to talk to landowners to find the solution that suits the individual farmers and nature best”, says Michael Palsgaard Andersen, Project Coordinator, Agri North.

“Our cooperation with The Danish Nature Agency and Mariagerfjord Municipality is very good and this is important when we try to get the farmers involved in the project. It is important that the agreements are attractive to the farmers and the aim is, that lessons learned from the project will be used to create some better aid schemes for nature”, adds Eja Lund, Senior Consultant, LMO.
The project "Nature - a profitable part of agriculture" has a total budget of DKK 9 million. VILLUM FONDEN and VELUX FONDEN has granted DKK 8 million. The project will begin spring 2016 and will run until 2021.

The starting point of the project will be the natural areas by Kielstrup Sø, Villestrup Ådal north of Mariager Fjord and Kastbjerg Ådal south of Mariager Fjord. The three areas are Natura 2000 sites and is part of an international network of nature conservation areas. The objective is that the lessons learned from the project can be used throughout Denmark to benefit nature, agricultural and business.

Further information
Nature and Environment Manager Jørgen Ussing, Mariagerfjord Municipality +45 97 11 36 20
Biologist Rasmus Fuglsang Frederiksen, Mariagerfjord Municipality +45 97 11 36 19
Project coordinator Michael Palsgaard Andersen, Agri North +45 96 35 13 80
Senior Consultant Eja Lund, LMO +45 87 28 22 66
Project leader Martin Nissen Norgaard, The Danish Nature Agency Himmerland, +45 93 56 41 00