, Volume 70, Issue 1, pp 81-89
Date: 22 Feb 2007

Developing silvopastoral systems and their effects on diversity of fauna

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Abstract

Silvopastoral systems, where stock graze between widely spaced trees, are a viable land use option in the British Isles. An experiment (the National Network Silvopastoral Experiment—NNE) was set up at 6 sites in the late 1980s to quantify outputs from and to study the ecological interactions occurring between components of the system. Studies were carried out on the effect of developing silvopastoral systems on certain invertebrate groups, including carabid beetles and spiders and on the number of individuals and species of birds. The common protocols adopted across sites enable broad conclusions on the impact of such systems on wildlife to be made. The presence of trees on grassland attracted invertebrates of epigeal groups which may have provided an enhanced food supply which attracted birds. Spiders responded more rapidly after planting of the silvopastoral systems than did carabid beetles. It was concluded that, even at this early stage, silvopastoral systems have an impact on birds: birds normally associated with woodland are being attracted to silvopasture along with birds normally found in open fields, although there are problems in the scale of evaluation in the assessment of impact. However, it has been shown that even relatively recently established silvopastoral systems can significantly enhance biodiversity.