Within the framework of LIFEstockProtect, several areas in Austria, Bavaria and South Tyrol are being professionally monitored over a period of four years in order to assess the impact of grazing on vegetation and biodiversity.
At the beginning of July, a first inspection took place on the pastures of the Schlandrauner Alminteressentschaft in South Tyrol, which had shown interest in cooperation. In addition to LIFEstockProtect staff, representatives of the local forestry station, the vegetation ecologist and study plot selection officer, and the vice-chairman of the interest group were also present.
What is guided grazing?
During guided grazing, the grazing livestock, under the guidance of a shepherd, selectively graze the vegetation of the areas depending on the suitability of the pasture. In this way, it is possible to make optimal use of the vegetation and to maintain it as a pasture in the long term. The potential of this method is great to prevent excessive forage loss and the emergence of pasture weeds. On alpine pastures, for example, the provisional fencing of the animals prevents them from immediately moving to the highest pastures to below the mountain ridge, where they would graze the young grasses and herbs. As a result, fresh fodder can hardly grow there, while the lower-lying and more productive pastures develop unused.
What happens in Schlandraun?
The shepherd Hubert Stieger is responsible for about 500 sheep from several owners. His shepherd’s hut is at about 2300 metres, he spends the whole summer there. Since the beginning of the season, he has been trying to get the groups of sheep used to each other and to build up a cohesive flock by penning the animals with grazing nets.
It is important to the alpine pasture owners to make the best possible use of the pastures and to preserve them so that they can be passed on to future generations. As this is an alpine cultural landscape, this is only possible through targeted grazing practices. The first prerequisite for this is the availability of sufficient animals and secondly good knowledge about the grazing itself. With a grazing plan from LIFEstockProtect and the constant presence of the shepherd, this would be possible!
What do shepherds and alpine pasture owners think of livestock protection?
In case of emergency, they are prepared for it through the already implemented guided grazing. By provisionally fencing the animals and the presence of a shepherd, basic measures for protection are in place. Guided grazing can therefore not only improve pasture management and forage quality, but also better protect the animals from attacks.
LIFEstockProtect will work closely with Schlandraun over the next four years and accompany them during the alpine season.