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Conservation of lowland semi-natural grasslands in the UK: a review of botanical monitoring results from agri-environment schemes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nigel Critchley


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Agri-environment schemes are one of the main policy initiatives for delivering biodiversity objectives for lowland grasslands in the UK. Farmers entering into scheme agreements must adopt environmentally beneficial management practices. Results of botanical monitoring programmes, of duration up to 8 years for schemes in the four UK countries, are reviewed in the context of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). No change was detected in 22 out of 38 samples (sets of quadrats or plots) of semi-natural grassland, implying maintenance of quality; some rehabilitation (improvement in condition) occurred in nine samples, but seven deteriorated. Some signs of reversion to grassland of biodiversity value (restoration) were detected in 9 out of 30 samples of agriculturally improved or semi-improved grassland. Rehabilitation or restoration usually coincided with low fertiliser input or changes in grazing intensity, and often occurred in western locations or the upland fringe. Deterioration was mostly due to inappropriate grazing intensity or altered hydrological regime. Greater use of site-specific targets and prescriptions would enhance future scheme performance and monitoring. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Critchley CNR, Burke MJW, Stevens DP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biological Conservation

Year: 2004

Volume: 115

Issue: 2

Pages: 263-278

ISSN (print): 0006-3207

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2917

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3207(03)00146-0


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