Semi-natural grassland as a source of biodiversity.. (SALVERE)
Semi-natural grassland as a source of biodiversity improvement
Start date: Dec 31, 2008,
End date: Dec 30, 2011
Today using our environment responsibly and developing a high quality environment means, above all, maintaining the existing species and habitats diversity and creating, wherever possible, new High Nature Value areas (HNVAs) as replacements of those eliminated through impacting human activities. In the last decades the agricultural intensification and the abandonment of land more difficult to cultivate have led to a strong biodiversity decrease of extensively or less intensively managed agri-ecosystems, mainly grasslands, with a High Nature Value (HNV). In Central Europe, the total biodiversity, of which the agricultural part is essential, has also decreased. Moreover, the urbanisation has also contributed to reduce the HNV areas and to create surfaces with vegetation strongly influenced by human activities.Protection of biodiversity was first promoted by the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Convention on Biological Conservation and then by recent EU regulations. To achieve this goal the public and private institutions involved need the availability of native plant material, which is not sufficiently met in Central Europe. Grasslands in this area are usually established by sowing standard seed mixtures from the international seed market, which mostly contain non-native species or ecotypes. In addition, the practical implementation of ecological restoration methods is not as yet satisfactory and seeds of local provenance are seldom available on the market in the needed quantities.In order to meet and overcome these obstacles the general aim of SALVERE is to contribute to the practical realisation of EU regulations regarding biodiversity by utilising the semi-natural grasslands as potential seed donor sites. The specific aims will be the improvement and transfer of the restoration techniques suitable for harvesting native plant seed from semi-natural grasslands and to establish new HNV areas. Achievements: During the project life, all important aims of the project were fully attained.The first main aim, the acquirement of basic knowledge concerning the seed production of semi-natural grassland and the comparison of the several available harvesting methods, was achieved through characterizing the amounts and quality of the seed production for some important species of Arrhenatherion, Mesobromion and Molinion vegetations and, in some cases, for whole meadows. This information allows now to better evaluate the possibilities of the seed harvesting of species rich native seed materials directly from semi-natural grassland. The many harvesting experimental trials performed by the PPs all over Europe with all important methods (threshing, green hay and dry hay harvesting and seed-stripping) put at disposal of the ecological restorer a set of results, which show the variable efficiency of each method. The second specific project aim, acquiring knowledge about how the several harvesting methods affect success of grassland restoration, was also achieved, as surfaces restored in the first project months quickly developed and showed the differential effectiveness of the harvesting methods. During the project, also an intense activity of information transfer was implemented. In many press articles and releases, in the five Salvere regional workshops, in the final International conference, in the numerous presentations at extra-project conferences and in the field demonstrations, the project methods were spread within the public administrations, policy makers, practitioners involved in natural grasslands conservation and restoration and to many thousands of ordinary people. Experts, professional men and companies involved in landscape works participated actively in the transfer of information and began to introduce the new methods in their real activity. Also, a further important tool was implemented the first time. The materials, equipment and works considered in Salvere were integrated into the official public works price list, Section Environmental improvement, of the Italian province of Trento, what is a basic step to concretely introduce the Salvere ecological restoration methods into the practice of the infrastructural and landscape works. All work done within the project was finally used to create the main Salvere outputs, that is the Handbook and the Guidelines addressed to experts and practitioners and which integrate the new knowledge acquired within Salvere with all important information coming from the past ecological restoration studies.
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