Use of Sheep Grazing in the Restoration of Semi-natural Meadows in Northern Finland

Hellstro_m, K., A.P. Huhta, P. Rautio, J. Tuomi, J. Oksanen and K. Laine

Publication Date:

The biodiversity of species-rich semi-natural meadows is declining across Europe due to ceased management. In this study we aimed to find out how successfully the local species richness of an overgrown semi-natural mesic meadow could be restored by sheep grazing after a long period of abandonment. The cover of vascular plant species in grazed plots and ungrazed exclosures was studied for five years and the responses of different functional plant groups were followed (herbs vs grasses, tall vs short species, species differing in flowering time, species representing different Grime’s CSR strategies and species indicative of rich vs poor soil). We suggest that to succeed in restoration it is useful to determine the responses of different functional plant groups to grazing. Grassland managers need this information to optimize the methods and timing of management used in restoration. Additional management practices, such as mowing, may be needed in mesic meadows to decrease the dominance of tall species. The availability of propagules seemed to restrict further increase of species richness in our study area.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Applied Vegetation Science