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Progress

Expected overall results 
The implementation of project “Hungarian Little Plain” (LIFE08 NAT/HU/000289) aims to preserve the natural resources characterising the military owned areas of the Hungarian Little Plain, by restoring previously degraded sand land habitats and population of valuable species, this way preserving biodiversity. One of the most important goals of the project is to find an optimal balance between nature conservation and military use that leads to the sustainability of conservation actions performed in the course of the project, by strengthening the cooperation between these institutions.
The conservation actions target the priority-listed habitats of the Gönyű Shooting Range: 6260 *Pannonic sand steppe and  91N0 *Pannonic inland sand dune thicket. By the end of the project implementation the Gönyű Shooting Range will also be incorporated to the Natura 2000 network as a part of HUFH20009 Gönyű Sand Land.
Natural grassland habitats of the project area are primarily endangered by the dispersion of invasive species (pl. Robinia pseudoacacia, Alianthus altissima, Asclepias syriaca, Solidago gigantea, Eleagnus angustifolia, Calamagrostis epigeios, etc.), accumulation of nutrients, illegal motor vehicle traffic and illegal waste deposition. During the former military training activities several landform obstacles were created and buildings were made that are no longer used. Besides that their debris visually damage the landscape, at some parts of this disturbed area invasive species such as Solidago gigantea have proliferated. Other invasive species also settled the project area which serves as a ‘seed area’ for them to infect other, natural habitats. Illegal waste has also accumulated in the area mostly considerable near roads. Illegal waste dumps are disrupting natural land cover, pose the hazard of contamination on the environment and degrade the visual value of the project area.
The interventions are performed in an area of 248 ha: invasive species will be completely suppressed by 2015 by combining mechanical and chemical methods while avoiding any incidental damage (such as trodding damage, chemical spilling) on valuable, endemic species. Primary target invasive species are Robinia pseudoacacia, Alianthus altissima, Asclepias syriaca and Solidago gigantean. (Action C.1)
The accumulation of dead leaves and plant parts often leads to nutrient accumulation, which can damage valuable grassland species and degrades Pannonic sand land steppe habitat. Previously, grassfires had renewed these ecosystems, however, in the early nineties, the frequency of grassfires decreased in the area due to less intense military presence. The threat of nutrient accumulation can be treated by mosaic-like spatial pattern grassland burning leading to the renewal of the habitat and dispersion of valuable and endangered species characteristic of sand steppes. Such activities will be performed in 17-17 ha each winter if the weather is dry and cold. 
Pannonic sand steppe habitats had been seriously damaged by those past military activities that included the transformation of natural landforms. The target priority ecosystems require a characteristic geomorphology, thus artificial sand dunes will be built in order to restore the unique grassland habitats on some 12 ha. Artificial dunes will be put under grass using endemic plant species collected from the project area. (Action C.4)
Anthropogenic threats are to be treated through the elimination of illegal waste dumps and recultivation of dumpsites. The concrete surfaces will also be demolished. The debris form building and road demolition to be collected was projected to amount to 2.900 m3. Illegal waste – as per estimations – would reach 3.200 m3. (Action C.5) Such sites are often infected by invasive species that also have to be removed. Further illegal waste dumping will be prevented by safekeeping of the area and informing the public. (Action D.9) 
The conservation actions (“C” Actions) will be thoroughly monitored and documented in monitoring reports (prepared yearly –altogether 4 reports + the ex-ante and the ex post report), in order to demonstrate the efficiency of the methods selected and to communicate the conclusions of the project to stakeholders dealing with similar natural conservation issues.
In the course of the preparatory actions all plans will be developed and all permissions  will be obtained. The inventory of priority habitats together with vegetation cover map serve as the basis of the Ex ante report (basic state survey). A monitoring plan bases the yearly monitoring activities.
In order to support the sustainability of the project results and achievements the beneficiaries intend to apply best practice for education through efficient dissemination activity targeted at the general public, environmentalists, military personnel and other LIFE+ military project site management teams during and after the project. Public acceptance is very important for a successful project therefore several means of dissemination are applied (general and specialised articles, TV and radio news, project brochure and flyer, newsletters). Special outputs of the project which support sustainable knowledge sharing include the training material and field card developed for the military, and information material prepared for cross motor drivers. In order to gain information on the civil perception of military participation in nature conservation projects two surveys  are to be carried out to support communication. All information on the project is to appear in the project website. 
   
Preparatory actions, elaboration of management plans and action plans
  
Action A.1 Elaboration of monitoring plan – survey of present status 
Detailed monitoring plan will be elaborated for the project area that will enable the beneficiaries to carry out ex ante evaluation of the project. The monitoring plan will include the most practical data collection method and frequency for monitoring activities along its target sites, target species and other important parameters (e.g. soil sampling). A stand procedure for field data analysis, evaluation and presentation will be also outlined. A status survey and inventory will be conducted to obtain baseline data, which will be used as a reference point for project monitoring.
Monitoring plan will be elaborated by environmental experts of beneficiary no.3, the survey of present status will close September of 2012. It will cover the whole project area. The beneficiary will also conduct surveying which will comprise a botanical survey and zoological survey. The botanical survey should include detailed maps on the extent of priority habitats (in the vegetation period) marker, and indicative species. The methodological guidelines of the Hungarian National Biodiversity Monitoring System will be followed. Best practice for the surveying will be determined as part of the monitoring plan. 
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 3.
Expected results:
Monitoring plan for the project area will be elaborated covering the 5 year long project period. Ex ante evaluation of the project will be carried out. Based on this necessary authority permissions can be acquired and implementing experts can initiate monitoring. Inventory of indicative priority habitat species and vegetation cover map of the 248 ha project area will be compiled (with special respect to invasive species). The area to be restored and rehabilitated covers the entire project area (248 ha).
Action A.2 Preparatory technical planning
Some concrete conservation (see list below) actions involve landworks, landscaping and foresting operations that require technical field surveillance and planning. Field surveillance covers preparatory actions and data collecting prior to the planning process. As a result, the output of field surveillance will aid us in defining the concrete planning activities.
The following technical plans will be elaborated as precursors to conservation actions:
• Planning the removal of invasive plants species – Planning of clearing and cutting works (where, what, how), designation of transporting itineraries and temporary dumpsites, the localization of the conservating habitats during the landworks with the observance of the preliminary results of Action 1. The plan will serve as the basis of the activities to be performed in the course of Action C.1.
• Landscape planning for the reconstruction of sand dunes and natural habitats – the determination of the exact areas, methods and the desirable results of the land forming works, the localization of the conservating habitats during the landworks with the observance of the preliminary results of Action 1. This plan shall base the activities of Action C.4.
• Technical surveillance of abandoned military facilities (buildings, trenches, bunkers) – the preparation of demolition plans of military objects, designation of transporting itineraries and temporary dumpsites. This plan will base the activities of Action C.5.
• Plans for the demolition and the authorization – the completion of the plan for demolition regarding the 4 former military buildings (which are out of use) in the extended territory Planning the removal of invasive plants species. This plan shall base the activities of Action C.5. 
Expected results:
The results of the field surveillance and the technical plans of the 4 sets are the base of the landwork, plans for the demolition and rehabilitation at Gönyű.
Action A.3 Acquisition of authority permissions for conservation measures
The majority of the concrete conservation actions (e.g. construction and landscaping work, large scale forestry management tasks) and some of the dissemination and project management tasks require the permission of authorities. 
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 2 and 3.
Expected results:
Acquisition of authority permits necessary for 3 conservation, 1 building demolition and 1 monitoring actions. 
Action A.4 Public procurement
Public procurement and acquisition of machinery necessary for the implementation of other concrete conservation actions will be carried out. 
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 1.
  
Concrete conservation actions
Action C.1 Removal of invasive species from the project area
Invasive plant species (e.g. Robinia pseudoacacia, Solidago gigantea, Alianthus altissima, Asclepias syriaca) infecting and degrading priority habitats will be cleared off the area applying forest management methods and best practice. All conservation measures of this action will be carried out under the supervision of natural protection experts assigned by beneficiary no. 2.
Action C.2 Removal of accumulated dead organic matter from grasslands
1-2 ha portions of grassland will be burned, following a mosaic-like spatial pattern to avoid accumulation of dead grass leaves and for the renewal of the habitat. Grass burning is a rather drastic method, which can harm animal species that hibernate between the fallen leaves; therefore it can be only applied for small (maximum 1 ha) areas. All conservation measures of this action will be carried out under the supervision of environmentalist professionals assigned by beneficiary no. 2. International and Hungarian environmental policy requires the acquisition of authority permits for burning, which will be carried in Action A.3. Grassland burning activity is also limited by the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe. However taking into consideration that the implementing beneficiary applies a best method practice, which simulates a spontaneous natural phenomenon and contributes to the improvement of status of priority habitat, exemption from the above mentioned regulation may be applied for (Action A.3).
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 2
Expected results 
Pannonic sand steppe grassland habitats will be rehabilitated and invasive Calamagrostis epigeios species will be suppressed on 150 hectares. Population of valuable plant species will increase (e.g. Iris arenaria, Jurinea mollis, Orchis ustulata).

                                                                                    

Action C.4 Reconstruction of natural landforms and rehabilitation of grasslands
This action has multiple aims, as follows:
• demolish man made landforms (e.g. military trenches)
• reconstruct natural landforms (sand dunes)
• rehabilitate grassland on the reconstructed surface
• landscaping after the demolished buildings
Hungarian and soviet military forces have bulldozed the natural indentures and sand dunes of the area in the nineteen-seventies, thus the natural landforms of the sand steppe have disappeared. At some parts of this disturbed area invasive species such as Solidago gigantea and Ascleias syriaca have proliferated while at other parts grassland similar to natural precursors has evolved. 
The action will start off with the military created landforms and the harvesting of grass seeds for a subsequent rehabilitation of natural habitats. Landworks (included preparation of soil works as plowing and smoothing before planting of grass seeds) will be carried out during the Fall and Winter seasons of 2012. Collection of grass seeds for planting of grasslands will be carried out earlier summer of 2012 and 2013 years. Grass seeds of the endemic species (Festuca vaginata, Stipa pennata) of Pannonic sand land habitats will be harvested. Seeds will be used for putting the reconstructed sand dunes and rehabilitated military ranges under grass.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 2
Expected results 
Pannonic sand steppe habitat will be restored on 13,5 hectares.
Action C.5 Removal of debris and illegal waste from the project area
The aim of the action is to remove illegal waste (electronic waste, tires and other vehicle parts, glasses, plastics, solid waste, asbest, insulation matters etc.) to demolish unused buildings, building ruins, concrete surfaces and to remove debris of them and external building debris as well from the project area.
Illegal waste will be collected from the whole project area using man-power, transported by trucks and deposited in safe and appropriate dump site.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 2
Expected results 
2900 m3 debris (600 m3 from buildings and 2300 m3 from road surfaces/other casings) and 3200 m3 mixed waste will be removed from the project area and deposited at appropriate location. Pannonic sand steppe habitat will be rehabilitated on 13 to 14 hectares in Action C.4.

                                                                 

Actions of public awareness and dissemination of results
Action D.1 Online communication
In order to strengthen the propagation and use of the results of the project to all targeted groups, this website was set up right from the beginning of the dissemination phase. It will not only provide essential data for stakeholders, but will also represent an international forum for interested parties.
Besides the webpage, the Kisalföldi LIFE Facebook page is also online.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 4
Action D.2 Media actions
A well thought PR campaign will ensure a high efficiency dissemination activity in this dissemination action. The main elements of the media work related to the project are 3 press conferences, meetings with and visits by journalists to the conservation areas and preparing articles for the press. The general types of media activity will be diversified from public interest to popular science. Press conferences will be held in 2013, 2014 and 2015 with local to national media invited to the event. Media will be informed regularly about the environmental issues the project targets, development and how it will benefit natural values and the life quality of local communities. The press conferences will be organized by Aquaprofit, involving also the Ministry of Defence Budapest, Forestry Stock Company and the Fertő-Hanság National Park Directorate.
Articles will be prepared and submitted regularly to the local press, popular science journals, environmental protection and military related professional, technical and special interest journals in the course of the project. 
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 4
Action D.3 Survey: Civil perception on the participation of the military in nature conservation projects
A survey will be conducted among the civil population. Firstly the population of Győr and the surrounding settlement of the project area will be done. Also, nationwide questionnaires and interviews will be carried out. Aquaprofit’s marketing professionals will design the research duties and activities.
The findings of the survey will be published and further communicated on national and international level towards military decision makers.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 4
Expected results:
Survey will support elaboration of successful communication plans, post project communication plans of the project proposed and other “military and LIFE” initiatives. 
Action D.4 Educational and informational materials
Written communication items, including 1000 field cards for military use, brochures and flyers), audiovisual and electronic material (electronic maps, multimedia material, and short videos) will be prepared during the project.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 4
Expected results:
Written materials and short videos will be published and distributed to the public, NGOs, military personnel of the site and stakeholders outside the site, and also to motocross drivers.
Action D.5 Information meetings for the public
Public acceptance is one of the most important conditions for a successful project and the best way to achieve is to get the public involved in it from the beginning. Non-governmental organizations can provide valuable input to the planning of some actions and ideas for the post project management of the project site.
Three meetings will be held at one of the convention centres of Győr in May 2013, September 2014 and in December 2015. Event will be advertised in the local press and media, municipalities and environmental organizations. The closing public event (held in 2015) will focus on the achieved results and the afterlife of the project and will seek public assistance to the preservation of the environmental quality achieved through the project. 
Expected results:
Three high-attended events will be organized which are expected to lead to an increase in public acceptance. Informational material distributed in the local communities. Dialog with environmental NGOs will be initiated.
Action D.6 Training of military personnel
This action aims to educate military personnel about environmental protection and nature conservation issues, to raise their level of awareness and prevent harmful activities due to lack of information and understanding.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 3
Expected results
200 military personnel have received training on nature conservation issues on five seminars. Environmental/nature conservation training will continue also after project period. 200 copies of guidelines for environmental practices published.
Action D.7 Conference and seminar
The 2-day international conference for experts and governmental officials, representatives of authorities will be held. Results will be communicated to at least 50-100 international stakeholders in the field of environment. They will receive first-hand information about project activities and implementation of Natura 2000 in military sites in form of a conference issue planned.
One international seminar will be held for project leaders involved in similar actions and military environmental officers (20-25 participants). They will be assisted with information and positive experience about project activities and implementation of Natura 2000 in military sites. 
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 4
Expected results:
The measure of success for the project is its added value to environmental protection in the EU. Whereas traditional communication tools can raise general awareness and public acceptance the most effective method for knowledge transfer to international environmental professionals and stakeholders is through interactive communication and on site demonstration based on strong professional bonds.
Action D.9 Installation of gates, information and notice boards and awareness raising against trespassing
Installation of approximately 10 notice boards and road signs at main road crossings and frequently used entryways to the area. Notice boards will contain basic information about the project and the land owner. About 5 gates will be installed on roads branching off from public roadways to the project area and these parts of the project area, on which illegal motor sport activity has been appeared from some years.
  
Actions of project management
Action E.1. and E.2 are to establish the meetings of the Steering Group   and provide the project management and the needed administrative background. 
10 scheduled Steering Group meetings held during project implementation. Unscheduled on-line meetings may be held should any urgent matter occur. Pre-evaluation of progress-, mid-term- and final reports prepared by the project management will be carried out (Action E.2.). 
Action E.3 Monitoring
A detailed monitoring plan will be elaborated for Action E3 (Action A1).  Monitoring plan will contain the list of the sampling sites, index species and the overall methodology will be assigned.  The key questions regarding the monitoring plan are the following:
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 3
Expected results: 
Impact of the rehabilitation of native grassland action will become measurable (area extent of restored habitat). Reconstruction of original landscape. Elimination of invasive species from the area.
Action E.5 Project auditing
The audit of the project is organized by the project manager. The audit is done by an independent accredited subcontractor.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 1
Action E.6 After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Project co-coordinating beneficiary will develop a study on the sustainability of the project achievements. Plan will be elaborated based on consultation with all stakeholders involved in the management of the project site and the experience gathered during the project. The study will be delivered in English and Hungarian.
Study will focus on environmental protection practice, synchronization of military activity and environmental policy, project management and (post project) communication tools. 
The After-Life Conservation Plan will be developed in the second part of 2015 and will be outside the budget of the project.
Beneficiary responsible for implementation: 1