Reduce intensity of livestock grazing: freshwater swamps
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Domestic livestock can directly consume vegetation, destroy vegetation by trampling, create bare patches of ground (e.g. repeatedly used tracks), affect water infiltration and flows by compacting soils, affect nutrient balance through excretion of waste products, and import seeds of undesirable plants (Morris & Reich 2013). Reducing grazing intensity might allow grazing-sensitive species to recover. However, maintaining some grazing may sustain a mosaic of short and tall vegetation patches, each favouring different plant species (Nolte et al. 2014). The effects of this action might depend on site conditions such as productivity (determined by soil moisture and nutrient levels; Berney et al. 2014).
To be summarized as evidence for this action, studies must have compared different grazing intensities, without completely removing livestock. Grazing intensity could be reduced by altering grazing duration (e.g. allowing livestock to graze for fewer days) or pressure (e.g. letting fewer animals graze, providing supplementary food as an alternative to living plants, encouraging grazing away from focal areas by feeding stations or shelter elsewhere). Comparisons must involve the same type of livestock and at least some overlap in the timing of grazing.
When interpreting the evidence, remember that the overall grazing intensity for a site does not necessarily reflect the local grazing intensity in wetland patches or in different vegetation types. Also note that “low”, “moderate” and “high” are relative terms within each study: they do not always refer to the same absolute intensity across studies.
Related actions: Use barriers to keep livestock off ungrazed freshwater swamps; Exclude or remove livestock from historically grazed freshwater swamps; Use grazing to maintain or restore disturbance; Use grazing to control problematic plants; Modify livestock farming practices in watershed.
Berney P.J., Wilson G.G., Ryder D.S., Whalley R.D.B., Duggin J. & McCosker R. (2014) Divergent responses to long-term grazing exclusion among three plant communities in a flood pulsing wetland in eastern Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology, 20, 237–251.
Morris K. & Reich P. (2013) Understanding the Relationship Between Livestock Grazing and Wetland Condition. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Technical Report Series No. 252.
Nolte S., Esselink P., Smit C. & Bakker J.P. (2014) Herbivore species and density affect vegetation-structure patchiness in salt marshes. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 185, 41–47.