Study

Effects of low maintenance grazing on the vegetation of a wetland fallow

  • Published source details Zahn V.A., Meinl M. & Niefermeier U. (2003) Auswirkungen extensiver rinderbeweidung auf die wegetation einer feuchtbrache. Naturschutz und Landschaftsplanung, 35, 171-178.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cut large trees/shrubs to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation

Use grazing to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Cut large trees/shrubs to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

    A site comparison study in 1996–2000 in a riparian wet meadow in southern Germany (Zahn et al. 2003) reported that in plots where woody vegetation was cut (along with reinstating grazing), there were changes in the area of plant community types, an increase in plant species richness, a reduction in vegetation height and growth of some woody vegetation. Statistical significance was not assessed. Over four years after intervention, there were slight increases in the area of reedbed/marsh vegetation (from 10 to 14%) and herbs typical of disturbed areas (from 45 to 50%) and a slight decrease in the area of meadow and pasture vegetation (from 45 to 36%). Total plant species richness increased in seven of seven plots, from 5–45 species/plot to 11–57 species/plot (increase of 3–22 species/plot). After four years, the cut/grazed area contained shorter vegetation than adjacent unmanaged land, including patches <10 cm tall not present in unmanaged land (data reported graphically). Finally, woody vegetation grew back despite grazing: up to 15 bushes/100 m2, reaching a height of >1 m after four years. Around 80% of 400 black alder (Alder glutinosa) trees that had been cut back died over the four years. Methods: The focal wetland had been abandoned for 20 years, becoming overgrown with tall herbs and, in places, woody plants. In 1996, woody vegetation was cut back, near ground level, from a 6-ha study area (details not reported). Annual summer grazing was also reinstated. The study does not distinguish between the effects of these interventions. Vegetation was surveyed each summer 1996–2000, in seven grazed 100-m2 plots. In 2000, vegetation height was measured along a 34-m transect spanning the cut/grazed and unmanaged areas.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

  2. Use grazing to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

    A site comparison study in 1996–2000 in a riparian wet meadow in southern Germany (Zahn et al. 2003) reported that in plots where summer grazing was reinstated (along with cutting woody vegetation), there were changes in the area of plant community types, an increase in plant species richness, a reduction in vegetation height and growth of some woody vegetation. Statistical significance was not assessed. Over the first four years of grazing, there were slight increases in the area of reedbed/marsh vegetation (from 10 to 14%) and herbs typical of disturbed areas (from 45 to 50%) and a slight decrease in the area of meadow and pasture vegetation (from 45 to 36%). Total plant species richness increased in seven of seven plots, from 5–45 species/plot to 11–57 species/plot (increase of 3–22 species/plot). After four years, the grazed/cut area contained shorter vegetation than adjacent unmanaged land, including patches <10 cm tall) not present in unmanaged land (data reported graphically). Finally, woody vegetation grew back despite grazing: up to 15 bushes/100 m2, reaching a height of >1 m after four years. Around 80% of 400 black alder (Alder glutinosa) trees that had been cut back died over the four years. Methods: The focal wetland had been abandoned for 20 years, becoming overgrown with tall herbs and, in places, woody plants. From 1996, annual grazing was reinstated on 6 ha (6–9 cattle, April–November). Woody vegetation was also cut back, near ground level, in 1996. The study does not distinguish between the effects of these interventions. Vegetation was surveyed each summer 1996–2000, in seven grazed 100-m2 plots. In 2000, vegetation height was measured along a 34-m-long transect spanning the grazed/cut and unmanaged areas.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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