OAKEYLIFE / The project

Project title: Multilevel and multisite complex restauration of key ecosystem services of the calcareous sand forest steppe habitat
Project acronym: OAKEYLIFE
LIFE Programme priority area: Nature and Biodiversity
Active period: 2017-2022

Coordinating Beneficiary: KEFAG Kiskunsági Erdészeti és Faipari Zrt.
Associated beneficiaries: Kiskunsági Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság (Kiskunság National Park Directorate), and Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület (MME BirdLife Hungary)

Co-financers: Ministry of Agriculture


The forest steppe habitat complex has different types, depending on soil and climatic conditions. The forest steppe occurring at calcareous sand soils is a unique, sigma-level ecosystem, which suffered more than 98% loss (in terms of surface cover) due to different human activities during the last centuries. A lot of plant and invertebrate species occur mainly or even exclusively in this type of the forest steppe habitat complex, which underlies the importance of sustenance of this ecosystem from nature conservation aspects.

In addition, the calcareous sand forest steppe complex provides us with several ecosystem services, which contribute to its importance from socio-economic perspectives. Sustainable use of ecosystem services is a cardinal objective, as some of those are irreplaceable and/or conditionally renewable resources. From ecosystem engineering perspective, the availability of ecosystem services can be regarded as functional indicators of sustainability.

The relationship between biological diversity and certain (e.g. some provisioning) ecosystem services is well described. In general, it is widely accepted that some ecosystem services cannot be provided by drastically transformed, species-poor ecosystems. Sustenance of species richness of habitats is necessary for restoring their favourable conservation status, restoring the favourable conservation status of habitats of community importance is a key approach to the sustenance of ecosystem services. Accordingly, sustenance of biodiversity directly contributes to human welfare.

Our objectives are:

  • to enhance the conservation status and to extend the cover of priority habitats of the calcareous sand forest steppe complex via eliminating local threatening factors (that form obstacles towards reaching the favourable conservation status) and via various restoration activities,
  • to enhance the conservation status and to increase the population size of plant ant invertebrate species of Community interest via habitat management and planting ex situ raised organs;
  • to restore key ecosystem services provided by the calcareous sand forest steppe habitat complex,
  • to raise public awareness (the public’s understanding) about the importance of these ecosystem functions provided by this habitat complex,
  • to formulate physically tested, calibrated technological recommendations for land managers and authorities for promoting sustainable management of these habitats and use of ecosystem services of those.