“We had vineyards here before the ‘90s. Afterwards they were removed and over a period of more than 20 years, this territory became a degraded pasture, covered with lettuce, which animals cannot eat, with pillars and spread-around wires. Two ravines formed after several rains, and then soil degradation and active erosion came. Landslips started five years later … The situation became critical.
Today, our soils are brought back to life. Over the last two years, about 25 ha of pasture were recovered and 36 ha of forestry belts with white acacia were planted. Livestock owners are satisfied, as they can now get good quality and sufficient fodders at a reasonable price.”
This is the story shared by Vasile Tintari, mayor of Copceac village, Stefan Voda district, a pilot community where in 2015 the UNDP Moldova “Biodiversity Conservation” Project started its intervention.
At that time, Stefan Voda District Council together with the project experts selected Talmaza and Copceac villages to benefit from soil and fauna rehabilitation. Today, the inhabitants enjoy the results.
Ion, 38 years old, from Copceac village, together with his brother, Petru, 27 years old, were making a living by working abroad. After the pastures’ rehabilitation, they launched in 2016 a micro-farm at the outskirts of the village, with over 30 cattle heads and 10 sheep. They have all necessary equipment and they sell their production at a collection point.
Another villager, Ion Chiperi, owner of two cows, tells us that before the pastures’ rehabilitation, he was buying hay from a private company. A bale’s price amounted to 35 MDL. Today, it costs about 1.6 MDL — the municipality provides him with 25 acres of pastures per animal, with sufficient hay to meet all needs.
“The municipality distributed 80 cattle and 10–20 sheep for these pastures. There are about 25 ha, just enough to feed 100 animals. We are happy with the arrangement. The prices are significantly lower as compared to the ones I was paying to a private company till now. We have sainfoin up to the waist level, and it is up to us to decide when to mow it and how much to leave for grazing. We are harvesting 4 bales per animal and the cost is about 1.6 MDL per bale.”
Satisfied with the results of the project, the villagers have recently participated, on the 21st of April, in planting a forestry belt in Copceac village. The planting exercise covered 14 ha of degraded and eroded land.
“Several years ago, the village started to be affected by landslides. Ravines formed. There are land areas with nothing growing on them; they are dried, cracked, like in a desert. The local public authorities along with UNDP started to bring back to life the degraded lands by planting about 60 ha. We do our best, as we cannot waste these soils,” tells Valentina Lazareva, 50 years old, a villager from Copceac.
Alexandru Rotaru, Project Manager at UNDP Moldova, notes the openness and participation of Copceac villagers.
“Locals were very responsive to all our actions; they participated with a lot of enthusiasm in the planting trees exercise. We are living now the happy experience, when we know that after the end of the project, all best practices will be taken over and things will be well implemented further on.”
With UNDP support, the hay production in Copceac village accounted in 2017 for about 13 tones/ha of hay as compared to 0.5 tones/ha of hay registered before the rehabilitation works. The estimated revenues for this area, according to the market prices was about 222,375 MDL. According to forecasts, the investments for pastures’ improvement will be returned over a period of 4–5 years.
The UNDP Moldova Project “Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into Moldova’s territorial planning policies and land use practices” is implemented during 2015–2018, in four communities from Soroca and Stefan Voda districts. The project is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The most important achievements are: 102 ha of ecological corridors created by afforestation of degraded land plots and 100 ha of pastures restored by performing works to improve the herbaceous carpet.
An inventory was made for the species from Soroca and Stefan Voda, based on which were developed rare species passports and preservation measures were established. At the same time, studies regarding the habitats of the rare species in these two districts were conducted.
The project developed biodiversity-friendly management plans for community pastures and forests for the pilot communities, district spatial plans for Soroca and Stefan-Voda districts, general urban plans for 4 localities from the pilot districts, including biodiversity conservation aspects.