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Semi-natural pastures in Scania: grazing and the support system

Gerell, Dan (2016) BIOK01 20152
Degree Projects in Biology
Abstract
Semi-natural pastures are one of the most species-rich habitats found in Sweden and many endangered species are connected to them. Strongly declining in area, semi-natural pastures in Sweden can be eligible for financial support within the EU agri-environmental scheme. The definition of pastures eligible for the scheme was changed in 2008, more specifically the amount of trees and bushes was restricted. This study aimed to investigate if farmers who previously had been part of the agri-environmental scheme, but left it, still kept maintaining pastures with grazing animals. 72 semi-natural pastures were randomly selected using ArcGIS and were visited during the fall of 2015. Grazing as well as tree and bush cover was recorded. Results... (More)
Semi-natural pastures are one of the most species-rich habitats found in Sweden and many endangered species are connected to them. Strongly declining in area, semi-natural pastures in Sweden can be eligible for financial support within the EU agri-environmental scheme. The definition of pastures eligible for the scheme was changed in 2008, more specifically the amount of trees and bushes was restricted. This study aimed to investigate if farmers who previously had been part of the agri-environmental scheme, but left it, still kept maintaining pastures with grazing animals. 72 semi-natural pastures were randomly selected using ArcGIS and were visited during the fall of 2015. Grazing as well as tree and bush cover was recorded. Results showed that fewer pastures outside the scheme were grazed than pastures within the scheme. There was also a near significant difference between pastures outside and within the scheme regarding tree cover. The fact that many farmers abandon the management of pastures outside of the agri-environmental scheme is a strong threat to the biodiversity connected to semi-natural pastures. The root of the problem seems to be the unprofitability connected to pastures together with the change of pasture definition. This study suggests that the agri-environmental scheme needs to be evaluated and improved to stop the decline of meadows and pastures in Scania and the rest of Sweden. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Few farmers keep maintaining their pastures without support

Semi-natural pastures are grasslands being grazed by domestic animals such as cows, sheep or horses, which are not fertilized or exposed to pesticides. Semi-natural pastures account for one of the highest measured diversities for vascular plants and act as an important biotope for many insects, mushrooms, birds, bats and amphibians.

The area of pastures in Sweden has drastically declined since the end of 19th century, today less than a percent of the initial area remains. The reason we had so many pastures in Sweden in 19th century was the dire need for manure. For every acre of crops you had, you needed about ten acres of pastures to get enough manure to fertilize the... (More)
Few farmers keep maintaining their pastures without support

Semi-natural pastures are grasslands being grazed by domestic animals such as cows, sheep or horses, which are not fertilized or exposed to pesticides. Semi-natural pastures account for one of the highest measured diversities for vascular plants and act as an important biotope for many insects, mushrooms, birds, bats and amphibians.

The area of pastures in Sweden has drastically declined since the end of 19th century, today less than a percent of the initial area remains. The reason we had so many pastures in Sweden in 19th century was the dire need for manure. For every acre of crops you had, you needed about ten acres of pastures to get enough manure to fertilize the field.

The widespread use of chemical fertilizers has disrupted the balance between pastures and fields, and today farmers are having a hard time making money of their pastures. If you own and manage pastures today you can get financial support from the EU agri-environmental scheme.

Previous research has shown that as much as 20% of pastures with high natural values were not present in the support system at all. This study wanted to investigate if farmers still managed their pastures after having stopped being part of the agri-environmental scheme.

The study
During the fall of 2015 I visited 72 semi-natural pastures in Scania, the southernmost region of Sweden. Half of the visited pastures were in the support system and the other half had previously been supported, but not anymore for the last years.

When visiting these pastures I recorded, among other things, if they were still being grazed and how much of the pasture was covered by trees and bushes. This study found evidence that unsupported pastures were more likely to not to be grazed than supported pastures.

These results underline the importance of the support system but also suggest that the current system is not enough to satisfy all farmers out there.

Maybe we could make the support system less complicated? Maybe the farmers can have a say about it themselves? The main point is that if we want to preserve the biodiversity connected to semi-natural pastures, the system around them has to be improved and the farmers has to be rewarded for doing nature conservation.

Supervisor: Ola Olsson
Degree Project 15 credits 2015
Department of Biology, Lund University (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Gerell, Dan
supervisor
organization
course
BIOK01 20152
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
language
English
id
8840818
date added to LUP
2016-03-10 12:18:55
date last changed
2016-03-10 12:18:55
@misc{8840818,
  abstract     = {Semi-natural pastures are one of the most species-rich habitats found in Sweden and many endangered species are connected to them. Strongly declining in area, semi-natural pastures in Sweden can be eligible for financial support within the EU agri-environmental scheme. The definition of pastures eligible for the scheme was changed in 2008, more specifically the amount of trees and bushes was restricted. This study aimed to investigate if farmers who previously had been part of the agri-environmental scheme, but left it, still kept maintaining pastures with grazing animals. 72 semi-natural pastures were randomly selected using ArcGIS and were visited during the fall of 2015. Grazing as well as tree and bush cover was recorded. Results showed that fewer pastures outside the scheme were grazed than pastures within the scheme. There was also a near significant difference between pastures outside and within the scheme regarding tree cover. The fact that many farmers abandon the management of pastures outside of the agri-environmental scheme is a strong threat to the biodiversity connected to semi-natural pastures. The root of the problem seems to be the unprofitability connected to pastures together with the change of pasture definition. This study suggests that the agri-environmental scheme needs to be evaluated and improved to stop the decline of meadows and pastures in Scania and the rest of Sweden.},
  author       = {Gerell, Dan},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Semi-natural pastures in Scania: grazing and the support system},
  year         = {2016},
}