GRAZE



Sustainable livestock production in protected areas with high inter-annual variation in plant productivity: cows, horses and deer in Doñana National Park


In Mediterranean and semiarid areas, large uncertainty in rainfall levels and the associated levels of plant primary production represent a strong constrain for the optimal, sustainable and environmentally-responsible management of free-ranging livestock production, particularly for conservation areas with high abundances of wild ungulates. This project aims at developing long-term criteria and modelling tools for the management of free-ranging livestock in Mediterranean protected areas with high climatic variability, taking the Doñana Protected Area (Espacio Natural Doñana, END) as a case study.
For this purpose, we will develop an interdisciplinary program that combines:
(1) Historical and current estimates of the population size, space use and feeding requirements of the five ungulates feeding in Doñana (wild: red deer, fallow deer, wild boar; domestic: cattle, horse).
(2) Historical and current estimates of the effect of rainfall levels and grazing pressure on the productivity and standing crop of the Doñana vegetation, based on a combination of field surveys, experiments and remote-sensingmodels.
(3) The development of dynamic, spatially-explicit models of the relationship between rainfall, grazing pressure and plant standing crop at the END, and its use to evaluate different management scenarios under current and forecasted climate conditions.
The expected result is the development of a knowledge base, long-term criteria and modelling tools for the management of free-ranging livestock in Doñana and other protected areas from the Mediterranean region