Biodiversity in intensive grasslands: Effect of management, improvement and challenges
¹UMR INPL(ENSAIA)-INRA Agronomie et Environnement Nancy-Colmar, 2 av. de la Foret de Haye, 54500 Vandoeuvre, France
²Laboratoire d'Ecologie des Prairies, Université Catholique de Louvain, Place Croix du Sud, 5 bte 1, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgique
³Land Economy Research Group, Scottish Agricultural College, Auchincruive, Ayr KA6 5HW, United Kingdom
Intensified grasslands are usually the dominant type of grassland in many countries in Europe but are generally of poor ecological value. Several management factors may affect biodiversity of these grasslands including fertilisation, grazing and cutting management. Their effects on grassland biodiversity are described in this paper. In most cases, intensive and profitable grass production from semi-natural grasslands appears to be incompatible with maintaining a high level of biodiversity. Two key questions then arise: how to restore biodiversity in intensive grasslands while limiting the technical and economical consequences? How to choose the target species on an objective basis? Some solutions are considered in the paper but it is suggested that 1) new tools (i.e. indicators) are required to evaluate the functions of biodiversity and to achieve biodiversity restoration goals and 2) in the short-term the research priority is to understand and predict biodiversity at the field and farm-scale.