Eco-pastoralism to maintain green spaces


The principle: herbivorous animals (sheep, sheep, goats, cows, donkeys, horses, etc.) are used to maintain green spaces. This practice is becoming increasingly popular in the North Loiret area of France, thanks to the work of PETR Beauce Gâtinais in Pithiverais. The former union commissioned Biotope Centre Bourgogne to manage the “Vallée de l’Essonne et ses vallons voisins” Natura 2000 site, and one of its recommendations was to use sheep grazing for better ecological management of the environments.

Virginia Bihais, Biotope project leader spoke with the Loiret edition of La République du Centre on 28 April. Below are a few excerpts from the full article.

Is it as effective as mechanical mowing ?

“Yes, though these animals mow a bit less evenly. However, cutting the grass mechanically promotes the development of certain grasses that invade the area. And that’s not good either. So, eco-grazing is perhaps less powerful but better environmentally”.

Why are sheep used so often ?

“First because, heavy animals should not be used (horses, cows) on fragile soil or steep slopes. Also, goats, for example, tend to eat absolutely everything, including rare and even protected varieties of flowers or shrubs. So, sheep are ideal all around”.

Are there differences between grazing and eco-grazing ?

“Yes. Grazing is just animals grazing in green spaces. They’re basically lawn mowers, if you like. Whereas with eco-grazing, a whole environmental issue comes into play; the schedule, duration and intensity of the practice has to be adapted to how the vegetation responds”.

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