A review of methodology for grassland restoration and management with practical examples

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.14720/abs.66.1.13230

Keywords:

grassland restoration, management, methodology, Natura 2000 grassland habitat types, agri-environment measures

Abstract

Currently, the majority of high nature value Slovenian grasslands have an unfavourable conservation status. Based on the available data from habitat type mappings, the surface of high nature value grasslands (6210(*) – semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates, 6410 – Molinia meadows, and 6510 – lowland hay meadows) at Natura 2000 sites is decreasing. The existing agri-environment measures have been only partly effective in promoting grassland biodiversity. The main threats to biodiversity are driven by various anthropogenic activities, which result in a continuous change in landscape identity, habitat fragmentation, and ecosystem degradation. Therefore, biodiversity restoration became an urgent step in conservation of high nature value grasslands. Multiple pathways may lead to the ecological restoration of grasslands with an altered, uncharacteristic floristic composition, or grasslands with an unfavourable conservation status. In this paper, we present an overview of the methods used in the restoration of grasslands from different parts of Europe. In an adapted form, these methods could also be used for the restoration of Slovenian grasslands. Grasslands may be left to spontaneous succession, which is mainly suitable for small-scale areas, located in the proximity of grasslands with well-preserved biodiversity. However, to re-establish plant communities with specialist species, a more proactive approach is usually required, such as sowing of regional or commercial seed preservation mixtures, transfer of mature plant material, or topsoil transfer from donor sites with appropriate botanical composition. Grassland restoration methods should be carefully thought-out and carried out before the habitat or species is endangered. We conclude that optimally chosen post-restoration management may have an impact that is comparable or even greater than the impact of a suitable restoration method. Nevertheless, maintenance of well-preserved grasslands is still much more cost-effective than restoration of degraded grasslands.

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04.04.2023

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Grašič, M., Šabić, A., & Lukač, B. (2023). A review of methodology for grassland restoration and management with practical examples. Acta Biologica Slovenica, 66(1), 52-77. https://doi.org/10.14720/abs.66.1.13230

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