Abandonment of croplands: problem or chance for grassland restoration? Case studies from Hungary

Valkó, Orsolya and Deák, Balázs and Török, Péter and Kelemen, András and Miglécz, Tamás and Tóth, Katalin and Tóthmérész, Béla (2016) Abandonment of croplands: problem or chance for grassland restoration? Case studies from Hungary. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, 2 (2). pp. 1-9. ISSN 2332-8878


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In Central-and Eastern Europe, the collapse of socialist regimes resulted in a transformation of state-owned agricultural cooperatives to privately owned lands from the early 1990s onwards. These socioeconomic processes resulted in landscape-scale changes in biodiversity, ecosystem services and agricultural production. In parallel, large-scale abandonment of croplands, especially on sandy, salty or frequently inundated areas, became common. Abandoned croplands are usually sensitive to species invasions, and are hotspots of noxious weeds, posing threats both to agriculture and nature conservation. Grassland restoration on former croplands can be an effective strategy for suppressing these species. Thus, a common goal of nature conservation and agriculture can be the restoration of grasslands on former croplands to (1) suppress weed and/or invasive species in line with the EU policy “Good Farming Practices”, (2) support animal husbandry by creating meadows or pastures, and to (3) recover biodiversity and ecosystem services. In the present paper we report “best practices” of grassland restoration projects from Hungary. Our aim was to compare the effectiveness of spontaneous grassland recovery vs. active grassland restoration by seed sowing in terms of the recovery of biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as weed control and biomass production. Our results showed that grassland restoration on abandoned fields offers a viable solution for restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services. Seed sowing ensures higher weed control and biomass production, but results in lower biodiversity compared to spontaneous recovery. Both restoration methods can be cost-effective, or even profitable even within a relatively short period of a nature conservation project.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QK Botany / növénytan
Q Science / természettudomány > QK Botany / növénytan > QK30 Plant ecology. Plant ethology / növényökológia
Depositing User: Orsolya Valkó
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2016 12:49
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 12:49

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