Thematic Framework

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The majority of grasslands are semi-natural in Europe resulting from the long history of clearing natural forests and subsequent extensive grazing and mowing for human purposes. Within the past decades such semi-natural grasslands become strongly reduced in area and diversity due to the intensification of agricultural production and the abandonment of traditional extensive management.

Central and Eastern Europe has preserved high-value grasslands that harbor many endemic or relict species, especially from the steppe and forest-steppe flora. Land abandonment following the fall of the socialist systems resulted in large areas suitable for restoration and conservation especially in low productive areas. At the same time, there is a high risk of invasion of alien plants and animals at abandoned land, and climate change impacts the dynamics of recovery and persistence of dry grasslands.

The course will provide contributions on the present state and richness of dry grasslands, the major threats deriving from global change, the possibility of spontaneous recovery of these grasslands, methods to facilitate recovery and the implementation of suitable management schemes to maintain habitats and preserve biodiversity by applying traditional knowledge. The course will include indoor lectures and inspiring field visits in the Pannonian region.

In the field trips, special attention will be paid to the following NATURA 2000 habitat types:

  • 1530 Pannonic salt steppes and salt marshes
  • 6190 Rupicolous pannonic grasslands (Stipo-Festucetalia pallentis)
  • 6210 Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia)
  • 6240 Sub-pannonic steppic grasslands
  • 6250 Pannonic loess steppic grasslands
  • 6260 Pannonic sand steppes
  • Distribution maps of NATURA 2000 habitat types in Hungary can be found here .