Large Scale Grazing Systems (LSGS) are complex structures emerging from the interaction of pastoral activities and natural resources. Man-made and nature laws are intertwined in systems of grassland management to produce large-scale effects. LSGS actually harbour a significant part of European natural values, but also include a small part of the rural population striving to make a living under harsh environmental and social conditions. This paper provides a synthesis of lessons learned from a wider research conducted with Greek and Spanish partners (Caballero et al., 2009) aimed at responding to what is left behind under current trend of grasslands abandonment. We have dealt with identification, analysis and diagnosis, but not with prescription. Our main argument is that extensive grazing is congenial with natural values of grasslands, but is the former that gives way to the latter. This assumption was tested for the main Italian LSGS throughout the identification of Successional Trajectories and Target Vegetation types. We detected general patterns of shrubby overgrowth on grazing cessation, increasing species richness with extensive grazing and plant species adapted to grazing or post-grazing succession. The relationship between grazing and biodiversity was not univocal, and spatial and temporal management of grasslands play a major role. It must be stressed the importance of adequate knowledge of the specific impacts of grazing regimes (temporality and grazing intensity) on species and habitat. LSGS face some common threats from intensification in the lowlands to abandonment in the far-reaching and less favoured grassland surfaces. Harsh conditions, social fragility, lacks of assurance of family business turn over, and poor economic performance, are common drivers of change, under a global setting of economic development. However, differential diagnosis of these constraints and alternative management practices at the regional level are further required in devising and implementing desirable grassland management plans and policy frameworks.
Large scale grazing systems for biodiversity conservation / Roggero, Pier Paolo; D'Ottavio, Paride; Bagella, S.. - STAMPA. - 1:(2010), pp. 87-87. (Intervento presentato al convegno “Le Scienze Ecologiche Oggi: Ricerca e innovazione” tenutosi a Roma nel 27-30 settembre 2010).