Long-term impacts of extensification of grassland management on biodiversity and productivity in upland areas. A review

  • Published source details Marriott C.A., Fothergill M., Jeangros B., Scotton M. & Louault F. (2004) Long-term impacts of extensification of grassland management on biodiversity and productivity in upland areas. A review. Agronomie, 24, 447-462.


Extensification is the process of reducing fertiliser inputs, management intensity and stocking rates. It is central to sustainable rural policies that address the problem of declines in grassland biodiversity and the destruction of sensitive landscapes and habitats in Europe.

A review was undertaken of a range of grassland extensification experiments in upland areas across Europe (mainly within the European Union) over the past 30 years. The experiments quantified the impacts on soil, plant and animals within the study areas (Marriott et al. 2004). All the experiments had the common theme of changing the focus of land management from solely the agricultural product(s) to including a broader range of ecological and environmental objectives.

Beneficial changes in biodiversity resulted from more extensive management treatments, but at the cost of reductions in total animal (e.g. sheep, cattle) output, and in some cases a reduction in individual animal performance. It was also apparent that it was a long-term process to achieve many of the reported beneficial changes in biodiversity.

Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper.

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