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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Maintaining an open landscape: Comparison of management methods for semi-natural grasslands: A Swedish multi-site study

Milberg, Per; Talle, Malin


Traditional management of semi-natural grasslands by grazing or annual mowing is not always feasible and the current study set out to evaluate alternative management methods. At eleven locations in southern Sweden, block experiments were conducted evaluating seven treatments in 5 m*20 m plots: grazing, annual mowing, annual spring burning, mowing every third year, mechanical removal of woody plants, herbicide control of woody plants, and untreated control. After approximately 13 years, trends for woody plants and species richness, and the occurrence of management-dependent plant species, low-grown species, and pollinator-attracting plant species were analysed. Overall, the annual mowing and grazing treatments resulted in fewer woody plants, the highest species richness, and more management-dependent, low-grown, and pollinator-attracting species. The untreated control plots showed the opposite effect, whereas less intense management (annual burning, mowing every third year, and mechanical and chemical treatments of woody plants) showed mixed and often intermediate effects. Compared to grazing and mowing, less intense management methods do not constitute long-term management alter-natives to preserve typical features of species-rich grasslands. However, they may be short-term alternatives at sites where the recruitment of woody species is absent or rare. However, to prevent the encroachment of woody species, less intensive management might be a better long-term alternative at more productive sites with slow or inhibited woody species recruitment.


Fire; Grassland; Grazing; Mowing; Sweden; Vegetation

Published in

Global Ecology and Conservation
2023, Volume: 48, article number: e02721Publisher: ELSEVIER

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