The pasture-type approach for mountain pasture description and management
AbstractThe study of pastoral resources can take different approaches with the main goal of characterizing pasture vegetation and its potential carrying capacity. In recent times, the pasture-type approach has been developed in several Alpine areas – on a regional and on a district scale – starting from sward surveys carried out taking the approach formerly developed by the French pastoral school. The pasture-type approach may play an important role in defining the management of mountain and marginal environments where grazing pressure reduction remarkably affects the agro-ecosystems functions (production, landscape, wildlife, recreation, etc.). This approach is based on the concept of pasture type, which could be defined as a semi-natural vegetation (mainly exploited by grazing animals), rather homogeneous in terms of botanic composition and influenced by environmental factors and agro-pastoral management. This paper presents the pasture-type approach by discussing the results of two large studies carried out in two areas of the south side of the Alps (Piedmont and Veneto). In order to identify pasture types, the vegetation composition was assessed with a point quadrat method. It allowed the computation of species-specific contribution, and of sward forage value and carrying capacity, after a multivariate statistical procedure for type classification and ordination. The site conditions (altitude, slope, aspect) and other environmental variables were surveyed. Moreover, to characterize the pasture types from the point of view of the ecological and management factors affecting vegetation composition, the Landolt indicators were used. The results achieved in the two areas were synthesised and organised into reference technical tools with the aim of using the pasture-type approach for pastoral planning. For each study area an identification key to recognize pasture types was drafted, and a handbook containing the technical sheets for pasture type identification, description and management was published. The approach here described enhances the knowledge on mountain pastoral resources, laying the foundations for their conservative management.
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Copyright (c) 2012 Giovanni Argenti, Giampiero Lombardi
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