Tonn B.1,2, Ten Berge H.3, Bufe C.3, Buchmann N.4, Eggers S.5, Fernández Rebollo P.6, Klaus V.H.4, Lellei-Kovács E.7, Lombardi G.8, Ravetto Enri S.8, Stypinski P.9 and Newell Price J.P.10
1University of Göttingen, Department of Crop Sciences, Germany; 2FiBL Switzerland, Department of Livestock Sciences, Switzerland; 3Wageningen Plant Research, Agrosystems Research, the Netherlands; 4ETH Zürich, Department of Environmental Systems Science, Switzerland; 5Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology, Sweden; 6University of Córdoba, Department of Forestry, Spain; 7Centre for Ecological Research, Institute of Ecology and Botany, Hungary; 8University of Turin, Department of Agricultural Forest and Food Sciences, Italy; 9Warsaw University of Life Science, Faculty of Agriculture and Biology, Poland; 10ADAS Gleadthorpe, United Kingdom
Grassland management crucially influences the delivery of ecosystem services from permanent grasslands. Variability in management practices is often described along a gradient from ‘low intensity’ to ‘high intensity’. These terms are likely to carry different meanings across European regions that differ in environmental and socio-economic conditions as well as between different groups of stakeholders. We conducted an online survey among grassland stakeholders asking them to characterise what they consider as ‘low’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘high’-intensity management in terms of cutting frequency, grazing intensity, and nitrogen fertilization. The answers of the 125 respondents revealed high variability in the thresholds between management intensity levels. Professional background (‘agriculture’ vs ‘ecology/conservation’) explained only a small percentage of the variability. The biogeographical region on which the respondents’ expertise was based also influenced the evaluation of management practices. Our survey exposed the hidden problem of communicating about grassland management across regions and professional backgrounds, and identifies a need for a common terminology when making general recommendations for sustainable grassland management.
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