One of the main objectives of nature conservation in Europe is to protect valuable cultural landscapes characterized by a mixture of open habitats and hedges, trees and patchy woodland (semi-open landscapes).The development of these landscapes during the past decades has been characterized by an ongoing intensification of land use on the one hand, and an increasing number of former meadows and pastures becoming fallow as a result of changing economic conditions on the other hand. Since species adapted to open and semi-open landscapes contribute to biodiversity in Europe in a major way, this development is of great concern to nature conservation. In several countries largescale, nature-adapted pastoral systems have been recognized as one solution to this problem. These systems could offer an alternative to industrial livestock raising and keep a high biodiversity on the landscape level. Against the background of livestock diseases such as BSE and Foot and Mouth Disease and the efforts to reform the Common Agricultural Policy in the EU by changing the criteria for agricultural subsidies, these concepts gain particular significance.They could also represent an alternative to the established, costly habitat management tools.

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