Pasture practices have affected Mediterranean forest ecosystems for millennia, and they are still quite widespread in mountainous areas. Nevertheless, in the last decades, the stability of forest ecosystems has been jeopardized due to the abandonment of traditional agro-pastoral practices, so that the gradual reduction of open areas due to progressive succession processes has caused a high increase of grazing pressure by livestock and wild ungulates feeding on forest areas. This paper aims at showing a methodological approach for evaluating the effect of applying measures in order to improve the grazing value of grasslands and ecotonal patches and lower the grazing impact on native woodlands. A protected area in Sicily (Italy) is considered as a representative case study. The analysis of remotely sensed imagery and several field surveys enabled to identify and map six different land use units subject to grazing, i.e., (1) forests; (2) grasslands (pastures dominated by palatable herbs and grasses); (3) overgrazed grasslands (dominated by poisonous and/or thorny herbs and forbs, not palatable); (4) encroached pastures; (5) roadside firebreaks (dominated by palatable herbs) with no shrubs; and (6) wooded/ encroached roadside firebreaks. Several data were collected through sample plots selected within each land use unit, in order to assess their pastoral value. These data have been used to define current and optimal animal stock rates aiming at addressing pasture management planning towards a sustainable use of forestland and shrubland.
|Numero di pagine||13|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2015|
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