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Individual study: In Ecological Compensation Areas (ECA) in the Swiss plateau, litter meadows and hedgerows were mainly of good ecological quality, but most hay meadows and traditional orchards were still affected by past intensive management

Published source details

Herzog F., Dreier S. & Hofer G. (2005) Effect of ecological compensation areas on floristic and breeding bird diversity in Swiss agricultural landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 108, 189-204


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Maintain species-rich, semi-natural grassland Bird Conservation

In a replicated site comparison study, Herzog et al. (2005) found that on average 86% of litter meadows in Ecological Compensation Areas on the Swiss plateau were of ‘good ecological quality’ (based on national guidelines for Ecological Compensation Areas target vegetation), compared to only 20% of hay meadows.  While wetland birds appeared to benefit from litter meadow Ecological Compensation Areas, with significantly more territories (52) than expected (31) in these areas, birds of open cultivated land had fewer territories (68) than expected (151) on hay meadow Ecological Compensation Areas.  For hay meadow Ecological Compensation Areas, ecological quality was significantly lower in the more intensively farmed ‘lowland’ zone of the Swiss plateau, compared to ‘pre-alpine hills’ zone. Territories of breeding birds were mapped in 23 study areas, based on 3 visits between mid-April and mid-June. This study is also discussed in ‘Maintain traditional orchards’ and ‘Manage hedges to benefit wildlife (includes no spray, gap-filling and laying)’.

 

Maintain traditional orchards Farmland Conservation

A replicated site comparison between 1998 and 2001 (Herzog et al. 2005) found that, on average, only 12% of traditional orchards in Ecological Compensation Areas on the Swiss plateau were of ‘good ecological quality’ (based on national guidelines for Ecological Compensation Area target vegetation). Orchard Ecological Compensation Areas appeared to offer little benefit to orchard birds, with territories of only one species (green woodpecker Picus viridis) found more frequently in or near Ecological Compensation Area orchards (11 territories) than expected. Plant species and orchard characteristics were recorded for 187 Ecological Compensation Area orchards (total area 108 ha) between 1998 and 2001. Territories of breeding birds were mapped in 23 study areas, based on three visits between mid-April and mid-June.

 

Maintain traditional orchards Bird Conservation

A replicated site comparison (Herzog et al. 2005) found that on average only 12% of traditional orchards in Ecological Compensation Areas on the Swiss plateau were of ‘good ecological quality’ (based on national guidelines for Ecological Compensation Area target vegetation).   Orchard Ecological Compensation Areas appeared to offer little benefit to orchard birds, with territories of only one species (green woodpecker Picus viridis) found more frequently in or near Ecological Compensation Area orchards (11 territories) than expected.  Plant species and orchard characteristics were recorded for 187 Ecological Compensation Area orchards (total area 108 ha) between 1998 and 2001.  Territories of breeding birds were mapped in 23 study areas, based on 3 visits between mid-April and mid-June. This study is also discussed in ‘Manage hedges to benefit wildlife (includes no spray, gap-filling and laying)’ and ‘Maintain species-rich, semi-natural grassland’.

 

Manage hedges to benefit birds Bird Conservation

A replicated site comparison study across eleven areas in the Swiss plateau between 1998 and 2001 (Herzog et al. 2005) found that the centres of territories of hedgerow birds were significantly more frequent in or near Ecological Compensation Areas than expected by an even distribution across the landscape (293 territories found in ECA hedgerows), suggesting that hedgerow birds were attracted to or favoured by these areas. Territories of breeding birds were mapped in 23 study areas, based on three visits between mid-April and mid-June.

Maintain species-rich, semi-natural grassland Farmland Conservation

A replicated site comparison study in 1998-2001 in Switzerland (Herzog et al. 2005) found that on average 86% of litter meadows in Ecological Compensation Areas on the Swiss plateau were of ‘good ecological quality’ and attracted wetland birds, which had significantly more territories (52) than expected (31) in these areas. However, only 20% of hay meadow Ecological Compensation Areas were of good ecological quality, and they did not appear to benefit birds of open cultivated land, containing fewer of these birds’ territories (68) than expected (151). Previous intensive management appeared to limit the effectiveness of hay meadow Ecological Compensation Areas, with significantly lower ecological condition in the more intensively farmed ‘lowland’ zone of the Swiss plateau, compared to ‘pre-alpine hills’ zone. Under the Ecological Compensation Area scheme farmers must carry out low intensity management on 7% of their land. For litter meadows, this includes traditional litter use, mowing and no fertilizer and for hay meadows, restrictions on fertilizer use and mowing (late cut). Plant species were recorded in 1,306 hay meadow Ecological Compensation Areas and 104 litter meadow Ecological Compensation Areas, in eleven study areas between 1998 and 2001. Breeding bird territories were mapped in 23 study areas, on three visits to each area between mid-April and mid-June.

 

Manage hedgerows to benefit wildlife (includes no spray, gap-filling and laying) Farmland Conservation

A replicated site comparison study (Herzoget al. 2005) found that on average 50% of hedgerows in Ecological Compensation Areas on farmland in the Swiss plateau were of ‘good ecological quality’ (based on national guidelines for Ecological Compensation Areas target vegetation).  Ecological quality was higher for Ecological Compensation Area hedges in the ‘pre-alpine hills’ zone than in the more intensively farmed ‘lowland’ zone, due to more old trees and fewer invading plants. The centres of territories of hedgerow birds were significantly more frequent in or near Ecological Compensation Area hedges (293 territories), suggesting that hedgerow birds were attracted to or favoured these areas. Plant species and hedgerow characteristics were recorded for 317 Ecological Compensation Area hedgerows (total length 44 km) in eleven study areas between 1998 and 2001. Territories of breeding birds were mapped in 23 study areas, based on three visits between mid-April and mid-June.