Which habitats of European importance depend on agricultural practices?
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The aim of this paper is to identify the habitat types listed in the Habitats Directive Annex I that require low-intensity agricultural management for their existence. We assessed the link between the Annex I habitat types and agricultural practices in order to identify habitat types that depend on the continuation of agricultural practices or whose existence is prolonged or spatially enlarged via blocking or reducing the secondary succession by agricultural activities. 63 habitat types that depend on or which can profit from agricultural activities—mainly grazing and mowing—were identified. They are classified into 2 groups: (1) habitats fully dependent on the continuation of agricultural management; (2) habitats partly dependent on the continuation of agricultural management. This paper also briefly discusses habitat types for which either doubts remain on their dependence on agricultural management, or the relation to extensive farming practices exists only in part of their area of distribution in Europe or under certain site conditions, respectively. Assessments of the conservation status of habitats of European Importance by 25 EU Member States in 2007 showed that habitats identified by us as depending on agricultural practices had a worse status than non-agricultural habitats.
KeywordsAgricultural management Favourable conservation status Grazing Habitats Directive High Nature Value Farmland Mowing Natura 2000 Ostermann list
Common Agricultural Policy
Commission of the European Communities
European Environment Agency
High Nature Value Farmland
Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Joint Research Centre of the European Union
United Nations Environment Programme