Virtual project visit to finalize first quarter of LIFEstockProtect

By now, we are used to online meetings, webinars and workshops. In the third week of January, NEEMO visited all LIFEstockProtect project beneficiaries virtually. They are responsible for the monitoring of LIFE projects and of NGOs that receive funding from the LIFE Programme. Usually, this would have been complicated to organize. But thanks to online meeting tools we got all 17 partners in the same “room” within minutes and were able to share the project progress as a unified team.

Positive feedback for project progress

During the first day of the meeting, all beneficiaries presented themselves to NEEMO. This was followed by an overview of the progress of the preparatory A actions of each action leader. The first couple of months of a project usually are spend setting up the management structure and administrative procedures. Besides doing so, the LIFEstockProtect project also initiated all preparatory A actions and even almost completed some of them. For instance, the development of a training protocol for scatdogs, developed by Naturschutzhunde, is in its final stages.

The European Wilderness Society, responsible for the communication activities of the project, presented the very successful outreach of the project so far – online, in printed media, and through networking activities! We count a total of 64 press appearances in the first quarter, a quite impressive number. We continued with an outlook for the year 2021 and the potential impact of Covid-19. So far, luckily, we managed to overcome Covid-19 related issues successfully. In some aspects it allowed and will allow us to reach even more interested people, like for example with the first multilingual Alpine Livestock Protection Conference on the 26th of January 2021. The online setting of the conference allowed for the registration of more than 450 interested individuals all over Europe – something that would not have been possible with an on-site event.

We finished the day with a presentation by NEEMO. Theresia Holzamer explained us what their role within LIFE is and how they will be involved in the project over the next five years. They provide expertise combined with local knowledge and the necessary language skills, in order to offer administrative and financial support to the project.

Individual consultancy on day two

The second day was dedicated to ensure that the project management team is familiar with the financial administration of the project and to clarify outstanding doubts. Of course, making sure that the financial side of things is done right is crucial for project success. Thus, it was also important for project beneficiaries to be able to ask NEEMO pending questions in individual consultancies.

Overall, the feedback from NEEMO was very positive. The fact that after four months all preparatory A actions and some additional D and C actions are in progress, that the project dealed successfully with Covid-19, and that the project outreach is tremendously successful, reassured all project partners about their continuous efforts.

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Compensation payments for farmers within 24 hours

Clearly, compensation payments for depredated livestock are an important tool to support farmers. Unfortunately, such payments usually take a long time. High bureaucratic efforts and long waiting times diminish their effectiveness as a tool to help farmers in challenging situations. Now, a new system, tested and installed recently in Majella National Park in Italy, shows that it does not have to be this way: They can provide compensation payments to farmers in 24 hours! Here is how it works:

A farmer reports the loss of a sheep, allegedly predated by a wolf. The Veterinarian of the Park gets an alert and carries out the necropsy inspection, in this case confirming wolf depredation. The following morning the farmer accepts the compensation proposal. Then, the Veterinary Office of the Park finalizes the administrative process of the direct payment to the farmer the same day. Eventually, depending on the availability of a vet and the complexity of the case, this process extend a little bit. However, the main point is that the system is set up to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and, thus, compensates the farmer as soon as possible.

Knowledge exchange between farmers

This is an important step towards better support of farmers with the challenges they face concerning the presence of wolves in Majella National Park. Overall, livestock protection in the region is very successful. Wolves have always been in the area and, thus, farmers are used to live and work alongside them. An important part of achieving similar livestock protection results in the German-speaking region of the Alps is information and knowledge exchange with experienced livestock farmers. The LIFEstockProtect project encourages this exchange between farmers of different regions. The LIFEstockProtect team visited Majella National Park already several times to exchange knowledge and skills with locals. During the latest visit, Austrian farmers even joined the project team. They visited several Italian farmers who shared their experiences with them. Curious? You can read about the visit in this article.

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