Vegetation dynamics in Mediterranean forest pastures as affected by beef cattle grazing

  • Published source details Casasús I., Bernués A., Sanz A., Villalba D., Riedel J. & Revilla R. (2007) Vegetation dynamics in Mediterranean forest pastures as affected by beef cattle grazing. Agriculture, ecosystems & environment, 121, 365-370.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use wire fences within grazing areas to exclude livestock from specific forest sections

Action Link
Forest Conservation

Other biodiversity: Exclude grazers

Action Link
Mediterranean Farmland
  1. Use wire fences within grazing areas to exclude livestock from specific forest sections

    A paired sites, before-and-after trial in 1995-2001 in a Mediterranean Black pine Pinus nigra forest in the Pyrenees, Spain (Casasús et al. 2007) found that grazing exclusion increased the biomass of herbaceous plants and shrubs. Six years after treatment herbaceous plant and shrub biomasses (kg dry matter/ha) had increased in fenced areas (herbaceous plant: 501 to 1,730; shrub: 1,902 to 5,073) but not in grazed areas (herbaceous plant: 417 to 679; shrub: 1,120 to 1,207). At the beginning of the study herbaceous plant and shrub biomasses were similar in the grazed and fenced areas while six years after both parameters were higher in fenced areas. In 1995, a 10 × 10 m area was fenced to exclude grazing in each of four sites (0.2 cows/ha) each spring and autumn throughout the experiment. Biomass was measured within and outside the fenced area at the end of the grazing season in 1995 and 2001.


  2. Other biodiversity: Exclude grazers

    A replicated, controlled study in 1995–2001 in upland forest pastures in northeast Spain found that both shrubby and herbaceous vegetation increased more in plots from which cattle were excluded than in grazed plots. Plants: Shrub and herbaceous biomass increased in ungrazed plots, but not in grazed plots (shrub: 530 kg dry matter/ha/year; herbaceous: 220 kg). After six years, shrub and herbaceous biomass were higher in ungrazed plots, compared to grazed plots (shrub: 5,100 vs 1,200 kg dry matter/ha; herbaceous: 1,700 vs 680 kg). The number of shrubs did not differ between grazed and ungrazed plots (17–26 shrubs/transect). Herbaceous biomass contained a lower proportion of living vegetation in ungrazed plots, compared to grazed plots (23–44% vs 42–75%). Methods: In 1995, four 10 x 10 m plots were established to exclude cattle in forest pastures, which had been grazed at low intensities each March–June and October–December since 1985. Vegetation inside and outside the plots was monitored each December using transects and random points.


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