2013. december 4., szerda

Valkó et al. (2013) Basic and Applied Ecology

Orsolya Valkó, Péter Török, Balázs Deák, Béla Tóthmérész (2013): Prospects and limitations of prescribed burning as a management tool in European grasslands. Basic and Applied Ecology, in press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2013.11.002

Grassland managers and scientists are increasingly interested in cost-effective alternative ways of grassland biodiversity conservation. Prescribed burning is a promising management tool which should be integrated in the planning of management efforts. In addition, small-scale prescribed burning is an effective fire suppression strategy to decrease the serious negative impacts of uncontrolled burnings on ecosystems and human life. Prescribed burning forms an integral part of the North-American grassland management practice, while in Europe it is rarely applied, despite the fact that uncontrolled burning occurs frequently in some regions. Our goal was to evaluate the use of prescribed burning as a promising but neglected management tool in European grasslands. We found that European studies on prescribed burning of grasslands are scarce and we conclude that annual burning is usually not an appropriate option for the conservation of species-rich grasslands. We reviewed burning studies from North-America to identify findings which might be adapted to the European grassland conservation strategy. In North-America, contrary to Europe, the application of burning is fine tuned in terms of frequency and timing, and usually combined with other restoration measures (grazing or seed sowing). Thus, we conclude that with the application of carefully designed prescribed burning, multiple conservation goals, e.g. invasion control and enhancing landscape-level heterogeneity, can be linked with an effective fire suppression strategy. We emphasize that for the application of prescribed burning in Europe, the general findings of carefully designed case studies should be combined with the practical knowledge of conservation managers concerning the local application circumstances to reach specific management objectives.

Biomass, Ecosystem services, Fire, Grazing, Mowing, Prairie

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