Use grazing to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater swamps
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
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Background information and definitions
Disturbance can clear dominant plants, maintain light availability and control nutrient levels – and may maintain vegetation in a desirable and/or species-rich state (Hall et al. 2008; Middleton 2013). Therefore, conservationists sometimes want to actively restore disturbance where it has ceased, or maintain disturbance at a site where it would otherwise be lost. Grazing with animals such as sheep, horses, cattle, goats or water buffalo (Gulickx et al. 2007) might be one way to do this. Grazing can also give some economic value to wetlands, strengthening arguments against conversion to other land uses. Grazing itself may be the disturbance that has been reduced. Some wetlands have been abandoned following historical low-intensity grazing (e.g. Plassman et al. 2010).
This section includes studies evaluating the effects of grazing implemented for conservation (e.g. with species and intensity aligned with vegetation conservation goals). Studies of the impact of intense commercial grazing, for example, are not included. Bear in mind that the effects of grazing might be highly dependent on how it is carried out (e.g. species, intensity, timing, frequency and duration) and site conditions (e.g. nutrient availability, water levels, presence/density of wild herbivores) (Rinella & Hileman 2009).
Related actions: Use grazing to control problematic plants, whose success is not linked to a change in disturbance regime; Change season/timing of livestock grazing; Change type of livestock grazing.
Gulickx M.M.C., Beecroft R.C. & Green A.C. (2007) Introduction of water buffalo Bubalus bubalis to recently created wetlands at Kingfishers Bridge, Cambridgeshire, England. Conservation Evidence, 4, 43–44.
Hall S.J., Lindig-Cisneros R. & Zedler J.B. (2008) Does harvesting sustain plant diversity in Central Mexican wetlands? Wetlands, 28, 776–792.
Middleton B.A. (2013) Rediscovering traditional vegetation management in preserves: trading experiences between cultures and continents. Biological Conservation, 158, 750–760.
Plassmann K., Jones M.L.M. & Edwards-Jones G. (2010) Effects of long-term grazing management on sand dune vegetation of high conservation interest. Applied Vegetation Science, 13, 100–112.
Rinella M.J. & Hileman B.J. (2009) Efficacy of prescribed grazing depends on timing intensity and frequency. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46, 796–803.
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This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:Marsh and Swamp Conservation
Marsh and Swamp Conservation - Published 2021
Marsh and Swamp Synopsis