In the Western Italian Alps, profound socioeconomic changes have affected traditional livestock farming systems during the last 50 years, with the number of livestock farms, permanent grasslands, and numbers of cattle decreasing by 92, 62, and 44%, respectively. However, semi-natural grasslands still cover about 370,000 ha within the Piedmont Region, 75% of which are located in mountain areas and exploited by farms that yearly move about 70,000 heads from the Po Plain and valley-floors to summer pastures. As semi-natural grasslands provide a wide set of ecosystem services to society, the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013 used agro-environmental payments to subsidize grassland management planning through Pastoral Plans (PP) and implement restoration actions, such as Temporary Night Camp Areas (TNCA) for cattle. The PP promoted the implementation of rotational grazing systems with stocking rates based on recommended levels calculated from vegetation characteristics to enhance the uniformity of grazing and avoid problems of undergrazing and subsequent shrub-encroachment. TNCA were implemented to restore shrub-encroached grassland using livestock. Case studies to analyze the effects produced by PP and TNCA and compare them with the common management system based on continuous grazing were conducted within the Val Troncea Natural Park (SW Alps). With the implementation of PP, cattle distribution patterns were less clustered and the selection of different vegetation communities was more homogenous than under the continuous grazing system. The implementation of TNCA was effective in reducing shrub cover and increased the herbaceous cover and height, as well as the cover of meso-eutrophic grassland species with higher pastoral values. In conclusion, the innovative approaches developed to manage grasslands appear to have the potential to both improve grazing distribution and restore semi-natural grasslands, but further efforts are needed to implement them over a wider scale and in the framework of the new RDP 2014-2020.

Innovation and tradition in livestock farming in the south-western Alps

PROBO, MASSIMILIANO;LOMBARDI, Giampiero
2016

Abstract

In the Western Italian Alps, profound socioeconomic changes have affected traditional livestock farming systems during the last 50 years, with the number of livestock farms, permanent grasslands, and numbers of cattle decreasing by 92, 62, and 44%, respectively. However, semi-natural grasslands still cover about 370,000 ha within the Piedmont Region, 75% of which are located in mountain areas and exploited by farms that yearly move about 70,000 heads from the Po Plain and valley-floors to summer pastures. As semi-natural grasslands provide a wide set of ecosystem services to society, the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013 used agro-environmental payments to subsidize grassland management planning through Pastoral Plans (PP) and implement restoration actions, such as Temporary Night Camp Areas (TNCA) for cattle. The PP promoted the implementation of rotational grazing systems with stocking rates based on recommended levels calculated from vegetation characteristics to enhance the uniformity of grazing and avoid problems of undergrazing and subsequent shrub-encroachment. TNCA were implemented to restore shrub-encroached grassland using livestock. Case studies to analyze the effects produced by PP and TNCA and compare them with the common management system based on continuous grazing were conducted within the Val Troncea Natural Park (SW Alps). With the implementation of PP, cattle distribution patterns were less clustered and the selection of different vegetation communities was more homogenous than under the continuous grazing system. The implementation of TNCA was effective in reducing shrub cover and increased the herbaceous cover and height, as well as the cover of meso-eutrophic grassland species with higher pastoral values. In conclusion, the innovative approaches developed to manage grasslands appear to have the potential to both improve grazing distribution and restore semi-natural grasslands, but further efforts are needed to implement them over a wider scale and in the framework of the new RDP 2014-2020.
I International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions
Braganca, Portugal
5-7 Ottobre 2016
Abstract book
Instituto Politecnico de Braganca
1
1
Massimiliano, Probo; Giampiero, Lombardi
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1623736
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