LIFE NATURA2000
Phases of restoration of a dry grassland starting from abandoned uncultivated land. Photo by Fabio Bidese

Phases of restoration of a dry grassland starting from abandoned uncultivated land. Photo by Fabio Bidese

PROJECT ACTIONS
GRASSLANDS RECOVERY FROM UNCULTIVATED

The restoration to dry grassland of abandoned agricultural areas is required to restore and expand the protected habitats area, also because the uncultivated areas serve as a source of "inoculation" of ruderal, adventitious and weeds species almost always allochthonous (Senecio inaequidens, Solidago canadensis, Erigeron annuus, Sorghum halepense, etc.). These species have proved capable of penetrating even in the dry grasslands surrounding.

The grasslands reconstruction process is very slow when tampered areas have an altered soil whose baseline condition allowed the presence of dry grasslands. At present there is an excess of nutrients and other crop residues, as well as the conspicuous proliferation of infesting plants that may persist for several tenths of years before giving way to the native components. Many of the grassland species have little prospect of success even when they try to take root in degraded areas and are in fragmented distribution.

The remedial actions, which serves to accelerate the natural recolonization processes, in principle, includes the following steps:

  • mowing, packaging and removal of organic material;
  • eventual weeding with no-residues products (which does not leave chemical residues in the soil) in the doses required for the elimination of ruderal vegetation;
  • where necessary plowing with clump turn over, harrowing for removal of rhizomes still present;
  • after a rest of the land needed for reconstitution of the bacterial flora, the preparation of the seed-bed through cutter or  similar tool;
  • broadcasting sowing of native raw seeds (obtained by threshing) with manure spreader especially modified and finally proceeding with mechanical seeder sowing a nurse crop of cultivars of grasses reduced in size highly competitive compared to ruderal species;
  • in the following season performing 2 or 3 mowings for the containment of any weeds and for the management of the meadow;
  • eventual localized weed control and mechanical reseeding on the surface, with the use of soil mixed with sand;
  • on the basis of past experience, a final weeding with selective graminicide principle should be required to remove some of the most insidious and persistent adventitious weeds (Sorghum halepense, Setaria pumila, S. viridis, Echinochloa crus-galli, etc. .) otherwise the entire operation is threatened and the time of habitat restoration must be prolonged indefinitely;
  • eventual transplantation of rare and native species cultivated in the nursery.

The project target is to restore 101 hectares of grassland inside "Magredi del Cellina" SCI, 6.2 ha inside "Valle del Medio Tagliamento" SCI, 12 ha inside "Confluenza dei fiumi Torre e Natisone" SCI and 43 ha inside "Greto del Tagliamento" SCIthrough the recovery of farmed agricultural areas currently abandoned.

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. monitoring
  3. management plans adoption
  4. seed harvesting
  5. uncultivated restoration
  6. scrub clearing and deforestation
  7. orchids propagation
  8. divulgation
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