Review: Prospects and limitations of prescribed burning as a management tool in European grasslands

Orsolya Valkó, Péter Török, Balázs Deák, B. Tóthmérész

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Grassland managers and scientists are increasingly interested in cost-effective alternative ways of grassland biodiversity conservation. Prescribed burning is a promising management tool which should be integrated in the planning of management efforts. In addition, small-scale prescribed burning is an effective fire suppression strategy to decrease the serious negative impacts of uncontrolled burnings on ecosystems and human life. Prescribed burning forms an integral part of the North-American grassland management practice, while in Europe it is rarely applied, despite the fact that uncontrolled burning occurs frequently in some regions. Our goal was to evaluate the use of prescribed burning as a promising but neglected management tool in European grasslands. We found that European studies on prescribed burning of grasslands are scarce and we conclude that annual burning is usually not an appropriate option for the conservation of species-rich grasslands. We reviewed burning studies from North-America to identify findings which might be adapted to the European grassland conservation strategy. In North-America, contrary to Europe, the application of burning is fine tuned in terms of frequency and timing, and usually combined with other restoration measures (grazing or seed sowing). Thus, we conclude that with the application of carefully designed prescribed burning, multiple conservation goals, e.g. invasion control and enhancing landscape-level heterogeneity, can be linked with an effective fire suppression strategy. We emphasize that for the application of prescribed burning in Europe, the general findings of carefully designed case studies should be combined with the practical knowledge of conservation managers concerning the local application circumstances to reach specific management objectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

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prescribed burning
grasslands
grassland
fire suppression
managers
range management
sowing
management practice
planning
grazing
biodiversity
case studies
seed
ecosystems
ecosystem
cost
Europe

Keywords

  • Biomass
  • Ecosystem services
  • Fire
  • Grazing
  • Mowing
  • Prairie

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Review : Prospects and limitations of prescribed burning as a management tool in European grasslands. / Valkó, Orsolya; Török, Péter; Deák, Balázs; Tóthmérész, B.

In: Basic and Applied Ecology, Vol. 15, No. 1, 01.2014, p. 26-33.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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