Protection of grasslands
Assessment made on 01 Jan 2001
ClassificationBiodiversity (Primary theme)
Policy issue: Are protection policies making progress?
The understanding of the importance of grasslands is increasing, as is the number of projects designed to protect them. While long-term data is not yet available, it seems that initiatives within the EU and the accession countries have slowed, but not halted, grassland destruction.
The Bern Convention Emerald Network will parallel this in countries outside the EU. The sites proposed for conservation under the Habitats Directive (pSCIs) vary in number and size, depending on the climate and character of the landscape and the historic and current land use. For example, the highest proportion of proposed large sites with significant dry grassland habitat is in the Mediterranean biogeographic region, with more than 80 sites between 1 000 ha and 10 000 ha. Spain has two sites of about 25 000 ha, one of 52 000 ha and one of 75 000 ha.
Although several countries have still not completed their national proposals under the NATURA2000 process (for example, none from Germany), there are many sites larger than 1 000 ha in the Continental biogeographic region, including extensive dryland areas in France and Austria. The large areas of dryland generally correspond to low-intensity farming areas, with biodiversity maintained through extensive grazing and hay cutting.
The growing national and international understanding of the importance of grassland habitats for nature conservation has resulted in an increasing number of projects in European countries to ensure the conservation of dry and mesic grasslands and associated species through restoration and management.
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Dry and mesic grassland habitats