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No 191: Beach meadows and fresh meadows in Guldborgsund Municipality as potential relief areas for barnacle geese. Part 2: Barriers and opportunities for re-establishment of grazed salt marshes

Sørensen, S.L. & Madsen, J. 2021. Strandenge og ferske enge i Guldborgsund Kommune som potentielle aflastningsområder for bramgæs. Del 2: Barrierer og muligheder for genetablering af afgræssede strandenge. Aarhus Universitet, DCE – Nationalt Center for Miljø og Energi, 32 s. - Teknisk rapport nr. 191 http://dce2.au.dk/pub/TR191.pdf

Summary

An increasing number of wintering barnacle geese in Guldborgsund Municipality, southeast Denmark, cause conflicts with agricultural interest. It would therefore be desirable to establish alternative foraging areas to reduce the use of agricultural habitats by the geese. During spring barnacle geese prefer salt marshes and grasslands as foraging habitats, but a large proportion of the salt marshes are inappropriate because they are overgrown due to lack of livestock grazing. Grazing will also have a positive effect on salt marsh biodiversity. Hence, an extensive livestock grazing pressure, adapted to the conditions of the terrain and nutrition status, can be beneficial for both geese and biodiversity. Through interviews with landowners  and a workshop with environmental managers, agricultural specialists and cattle keepers it was investigated why grazing of salt marshes was no longer performed and which preconditions need to be in place to reestablish grazing. The study showed that there needs to be an economic incentive for landowners to engage but this is difficult to achieve because many salt marsh parcels are too small. Strict legal requirements and sanctions related to agro-environmental subsidy schemes for grazing were seen as a barrier. Other challenges were hydrological conditions, poor nutritive conditions, difficult logistics for transport of livestock, provision of drinking water, fencing and supervision. The incentives could be improved by creation of larger connected grazing pens in collaboration among landowners, and in association with authorities, livestock keepers and relevant NGOs. Through collaboration and clear communication there will be a greater probability of achieving the goal of more grazed salt marshes.