PROJEKT: Conservation of endemic species and dry grassland habitats in the contact zone of Pannonian and Alpine bioregions
If you are looking for a blossoming cherry in May (at least here in Slovakia), you will find it in the White Carpathians in the protected area Vršatské bradlá. And with it also living mowers – a herd of goats and a few sheep. Grazing started exceptionally here already in April in two reserved plots. After grazing the first one, we moved them a little further and in about ten days they will go to another location. We introduced such early rotational grazing on this area for the reason that nectar-bearing plants could bloom here, which the goats would otherwise graze. In wet years, however, flowers overgrow the grasses, so early spring grazing seems like a great solution. Flowering plants are an important food source for the endangered mountain apollo butterfly, which is one of the target species of our LIFE Endemic Panalp project. We implemented an even more unconventional winter grazing of sheep and goats with cooperating farmers at two locations – in Hrehorkové (White Carpathians) in the municipality of Mikušovce and in Dolné Lazy (Považský Inovec mts.) near the Závada village. Both localities are a SCI area and the object of protection here is xerothermic, i.e. heat- and drought-loving vegetation. However, these areas were very overgrown, so trees and bushes were removed here in the first step. To suppress their shoots, grazing is the only effective solution. Changing an overgrown site into a maintained one does not happen all at once, but usually requires a multi-year effort. Grazing in winter and early spring suppresses shrubs and grasses best. If it is interrupted in the summer, grasslands can flower and valuable herbs are able to produce seeds. Two donkeys will be added to the sheep and goats at the Dolné Lazy site this year. At the end of this article, we would like to thank the local farmers and volunteers on behalf of BROZ, without whom our efforts would be in vain. Activities at the sites are carried out with the consent of the landowners in cooperation with the state nature protection within the LIFE Endemic PANALP project.
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