Throughout the last decades, agro-pastoral abandonment has produced profound landscape and ecological changes in southwestern Italian Alps. In particular, the reduction in grazing has led to an extensive tree and shrub-encroachment of sub-alpine grasslands, which repre-sents a threat to biodiversity conservation and increases the probability of wild-fires, erosion, and avalanches. In summer 2011, two different pastoral practices were carried out to restore shrub-encroached grasslands: strategic placement of mineral mix supplements (MMS) and arrangement of temporary night camp areas (TNCA) for cattle. The effects produced on veg-etation by practices were assessed in summer 2012 and 2013. Shrub cover was reduced in 2012 (p < 0.05) and it did not change in 2013, whereas bare ground cover increased (p < 0.05) in 2012 and decreased in 2013 both around MMS sites and within TNCA. Within TNCA the cover and height of the herbaceous layer constantly increased (p < 0.05) one and two years after the arrangement of TNCA. Forage pastoral value increased (p < 0.05) within TNCA but not around MMS sites. No differences in biodiversity indices were detected around MMS sites and within TNCA after two years. Our findings indicate that: i) both MMS and TNCA are sustainable practices to reverse shrub-encroachment, as they are low cost and they can be easily carried out on rugged terrain, ii) TNCA are more effective than MMS in terms of resto-ration of semi-natural grassland vegetation. Shrub encroachment in the Alps may therefore be reversed, and restoration of grassland enhanced, by using appropriate pastoral practices.

Pastoral practices for the restoration of shrub-encroached grasslands in the southwestern Italian Alps

PROBO, MASSIMILIANO;PITTARELLO, MARCO;IUSSIG, GABRIELE;GORLIER, Alessandra;LONATI, MICHELE;
2014

Abstract

Throughout the last decades, agro-pastoral abandonment has produced profound landscape and ecological changes in southwestern Italian Alps. In particular, the reduction in grazing has led to an extensive tree and shrub-encroachment of sub-alpine grasslands, which repre-sents a threat to biodiversity conservation and increases the probability of wild-fires, erosion, and avalanches. In summer 2011, two different pastoral practices were carried out to restore shrub-encroached grasslands: strategic placement of mineral mix supplements (MMS) and arrangement of temporary night camp areas (TNCA) for cattle. The effects produced on veg-etation by practices were assessed in summer 2012 and 2013. Shrub cover was reduced in 2012 (p < 0.05) and it did not change in 2013, whereas bare ground cover increased (p < 0.05) in 2012 and decreased in 2013 both around MMS sites and within TNCA. Within TNCA the cover and height of the herbaceous layer constantly increased (p < 0.05) one and two years after the arrangement of TNCA. Forage pastoral value increased (p < 0.05) within TNCA but not around MMS sites. No differences in biodiversity indices were detected around MMS sites and within TNCA after two years. Our findings indicate that: i) both MMS and TNCA are sustainable practices to reverse shrub-encroachment, as they are low cost and they can be easily carried out on rugged terrain, ii) TNCA are more effective than MMS in terms of resto-ration of semi-natural grassland vegetation. Shrub encroachment in the Alps may therefore be reversed, and restoration of grassland enhanced, by using appropriate pastoral practices.
The 9 th European Conference on Ecological Restoration
Oulu, Finland
3-8 August 2014
The 9 th European Conference on Ecological Restoration - Abstracts
Anne Tolvanen, Anne-Maarit Hekkala
120
120
http://www.ser2014.org/
Massimiliano Probo; Marco Pittarello; Gabriele Iussig; Alessandra Gorlier; Michele Lonati; Giampiero Lombard
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/149710
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