High Nature Value farmlands of rural Norway – the effect of the surrounding landscapes on the biodiversity within hay meadows of high ecological value

Authors and Affiliations: 

Sølvi Wehn, Sigrun Aune, Knut Anders Hovstad, Line Johansen.
NIBIO - Norwegian institute of Bioeconomy Research, Stjørdal, Norway

Corresponding author: 
Sølvi Wehn

Historically, extensively managed semi-natural grasslands were widespread and of high agricultural importance. Today, these grasslands (pastures and hay meadows) are in decline due to land use changes and red listen in Norway (Norderhaug and Johansen 2011). Semi-natural grasslands are among the most species rich ecosystems in Europe and today the grasslands represent high cultural and biological values in addition to agricultural values (Veen et al. 2009). In Norway an agri-environmental scheme (Action plan for hay-meadows; APHM) is therefore implemented to protect these values (DN 2009).
Several aspects have to be met to ensure the success of the APHM. One is that a large-scale implementation of the agri-environment scheme has to be considered. The landscape structure might influence the biodiversity and nature value in a habitat. We therefore aim to assess the importance of the surrounding landscape structure on the biological value of semi-natural grasslands.
In five regions in Norway, we botanically surveyed 64 semi-natural grasslands. In the same regions, we also extracted information on the vegetation matrix (land-use categories; based on available area resource maps) of the surrounding landscapes and examined at which scale did the surrounding landscape influence the vascular plant species biodiversity within the high nature valued habitats (the semi-natural grasslands).
The results showed that the area of low intensively used grasslands within a radius of 1 km from the semi-natural grassland showed positive impact on the vascular plant species richness within the grasslands. Connectivity between habitats of high biological value is important to within each habitat. However, also the area of low intensively used grasslands within a radius of 6 km did show positive impact reflecting that the main agricultural trend within a regions do impact the species pool of the region.


DN (The Norwegian Environment Agency). 2009. Handlingsplan for slåttemark. (The Action Plan for Hay Meadows) DN-report 6-2009.
Norderhaug, A., Johansen, L. 2011. Norwegian Red List for Ecosystems and Habitat Types. The 2011 Norwegian Red List for Ecosystems and Habitat Types. Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, Trondheim.
Veen, P., Jefferson, R., de Smidt, J. and van der Straaten, J. (eds) (2009) Grasslands in Europe of High Nature Value. Den Haag, The Netherlands: KKNV publishing.

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