Agriculturally improved and semi-natural permanent grasslands provide complementary ecosystem services in Swedish boreal landscapes

Aguilera Nuñez, Guillermo, Glimskär, Anders ORCID logo ORCID: , Zacchello, Giulia, Francksen, Richard ORCID logo ORCID: , Whittingham, Mark and Hiron, Matthew (2024) Agriculturally improved and semi-natural permanent grasslands provide complementary ecosystem services in Swedish boreal landscapes. Agronomy, 14 (3). p. 567.

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Permanent grasslands cover more than a third of European agricultural land and are important for a number of ecosystem services. Permanent grasslands used for agriculture are broadly separated into agriculturally improved and semi-natural grasslands. High cultural and natural values linked to semi-natural grasslands are well documented. However, in boreal and hemi-boreal agricultural landscapes, less information is available about the areal coverage of improved permanent grasslands and their role for ecosystem service provision and biodiversity. In Sweden, grasslands are administratively separated into semi-natural (i.e., land that cannot be ploughed) or arable (i.e., improved temporary or permanent grassland on land that can be ploughed). We used data from a large-scale environmental monitoring program to show that improved permanent grassland (i.e., permanent grasslands on arable fields) may be a previously unrecognised large area of the agricultural land use in Sweden. We show that improved permanent grasslands together with semi-natural grasslands are both comparable but also complementary providers of a range of ecosystem services (plant species richness, plant resources for pollinators and forage amount for livestock production). However, as expected, semi-natural grasslands with the highest-level AESs (special values) show high species richness values for vascular plants, plants indicating traditional semi-natural management conditions and red-listed species. Improved permanent grasslands on arable fields are likely an underestimated but integral part of the agricultural economy and ecological function in boreal landscapes that together with high nature value semi-natural grasslands provide a broad range of ecosystem services.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Agronomy
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2073-4395
Departments: Institute of Science and Environment > Forestry and Conservation
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
SWORD Depositor: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2024 20:19
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2024 08:00


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