Reduce the intensity of livestock grazing in forests

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One replicated study in the UK found that reducing grazing intensity increased the number of tree saplings.
  • One replicated, randomized, controlled study in Greece found that reducing grazing intensity increased understory biomass.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated study in 1986-1993 in temperate woodland in the UK (Hester, Mitchell & Kirby 1996) found that reducing the intensity of sheep grazing increased the numbers of tree saplings. The number of saplings/100 m2 was higher in low-intensity (0.54-0.66) than in high- and medium-intensity grazing plots. Four plots for each grazing intensity: high (2.1-3.8 sheep/ha); medium (1.2-2.0 sheep/ha) or low (0.6-1.2 sheep/ha) were established in 1986. Saplings (>30 cm diameter at breast height) were monitored in 2003 in 20 quadrats (10 × 10 m) within each plot.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 1991-2005 in a Mediterranean oak forest in central Macedonia, Greece (Ainalis, Platis & Meliadis 2010) found that reducing grazing intensity increased understory plant biomass . Understory production (kg/ha dry matter) was higher in non- and lightly-grazed (~4,500) than in moderately-grazed (~2,800) and heavily-grazed sites (~1,000). A study area of 2,000 ha was divided into six forest segments, each was divided into three areas with different stocking densities (goats and cattle): heavy (15 animals/ha), moderate (5 animals/ha) and light (0.2 animals/ha). Sixty plots (1 m2) were randomly placed in every grazing treatment in all stands and protected from grazing at the end of 2004. Similar size plots with grazing close to protected (control) plots were sampled for comparison. Overall understory (herbage and browse) production was measured in 1991 and in September 2005.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Agra, H., Schowanek, S., Carmel, Y., Smith, R.K. & Ne’eman, G. (2020) Forest Conservation. Pages 323-366 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Forest Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Forest Conservation
Forest Conservation

Forest Conservation - Published 2016

Forest synopsis

What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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