Theme 1: Rangeland/Grassland Ecology--Oral Sessions

Description

The mountain landscapes of northern Portugal have been modified through rural depopulation and the absence of rangeland management. As such, increased above-ground biomass and higher fire hazard resulted, as well as decreased ecosystem biodiversity. The objectives of the OpentoPreserve Interreg SUDOE project are to evaluate the effects of the combined use of prescribed fire with grazing horses, and also to develop strategies of socio-economic valorization of this model. Concerning the evaluation of prescribed fire and grazing effects, the experimental design consisted of three plots in the Natura 2000 Alvão/Marão Site, respectively Control, Fire x Grazing, and Fire. The Fire plots were burned in early spring and vegetation percent cover and height were measured in all plots in late spring. We have implemented four transects in the three different plots, used the line intercept method and subsequently estimated vegetation volume. This methodology is also applied on Forestation of Agricultural Land with More Silviculture, Silvopasture, Innovation and Value project. Concerning socio-economic valorization, the stakeholders related to the native horse breed, were interviewed and a focus-group was held. The study intends to identify both the benefits resulting from the adoption of a management system that includes the native horse breed, named Garrano, and the main weaknesses related to environmental, economic and social sustainability. Initial results for total vegetation in each plot show a high reduction in vegetation percent cover and its volume in the burned plots (33.5% and 268.3 m3 ha-1) in comparison to the control plot (183.7% and 12862.5 m3 ha-1). Furthermore, a fast recovery was observed in July, mainly of the Pterospartum tridentatum shrub species. Interviews and focus-group results shows the important role of these grazing animals in vegetation control as well as in other ecosystems services, involving an environmental and a socio-economic dimension. A strategy to value contribution to the economy of agricultural holdings has been proposed.

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Prescribed Fire Plus Grazing Horses: A Sustainable Model to Decrease Fire Hazard in a Mountain Landscape

The mountain landscapes of northern Portugal have been modified through rural depopulation and the absence of rangeland management. As such, increased above-ground biomass and higher fire hazard resulted, as well as decreased ecosystem biodiversity. The objectives of the OpentoPreserve Interreg SUDOE project are to evaluate the effects of the combined use of prescribed fire with grazing horses, and also to develop strategies of socio-economic valorization of this model. Concerning the evaluation of prescribed fire and grazing effects, the experimental design consisted of three plots in the Natura 2000 Alvão/Marão Site, respectively Control, Fire x Grazing, and Fire. The Fire plots were burned in early spring and vegetation percent cover and height were measured in all plots in late spring. We have implemented four transects in the three different plots, used the line intercept method and subsequently estimated vegetation volume. This methodology is also applied on Forestation of Agricultural Land with More Silviculture, Silvopasture, Innovation and Value project. Concerning socio-economic valorization, the stakeholders related to the native horse breed, were interviewed and a focus-group was held. The study intends to identify both the benefits resulting from the adoption of a management system that includes the native horse breed, named Garrano, and the main weaknesses related to environmental, economic and social sustainability. Initial results for total vegetation in each plot show a high reduction in vegetation percent cover and its volume in the burned plots (33.5% and 268.3 m3 ha-1) in comparison to the control plot (183.7% and 12862.5 m3 ha-1). Furthermore, a fast recovery was observed in July, mainly of the Pterospartum tridentatum shrub species. Interviews and focus-group results shows the important role of these grazing animals in vegetation control as well as in other ecosystems services, involving an environmental and a socio-economic dimension. A strategy to value contribution to the economy of agricultural holdings has been proposed.