More plant species in low intensity meadows in Switzerland

  • Published source details Dietschi S., Holderegger R. & Schmidt S.G. (2007) Agri-environment incentive payments and plant species richness under different management intensities in mountain meadows of Switzerland. Acta Oecologica, 31, 216-222


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Reduce management intensity on permanent grasslands (several interventions at once)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Reduce management intensity on permanent grasslands (several interventions at once)

    A site comparison study of alpine meadows in the Albula and Surses Valleys in the Canton of Grisons, Switzerland (Dietschi et al. 2007) found that low intensity meadows and extensively managed meadows had significantly more plant species than intensively managed meadows. Low intensity meadows had on average 50 and 55 plant species for moist and dry meadows respectively. Extensive meadows had averages of 53 and 58 plant species for moist and dry meadows respectively. Intensively managed meadows had 37 plant species on average (none were dry meadows). The difference in species number between low intensity and extensive meadows was not statistically significant. Sixty-nine sites were surveyed. Thirty extensively managed meadows had no fertilizer input. Twenty-five meadows managed with low intensity had manure inputs equivalent to 30 kg N/ha/year. Both these types of meadow were managed under agri-environment management agreements, and were cut once after 15 July, with autumn grazing allowed. Fourteen intensively managed meadows had fertilizer inputs of around 90 kg N/ha, and were cut three or four times a year without restrictions. The authors suggest that low intensity management retains species richness in alpine meadows (unlike lowland grasslands in Switzerland) because their degradation due to intensive management has been relatively recent.


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