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Title: The Impact Of Grazing And Upland Management On Erosion And Runoff: Additional Information
Author: Johns M
Author: Environment Agency
Document Type: Monograph
Annotation: Environment Agency Project ID:EAPRJOUT_1440, Representation ID: 491, Object ID: 2594
Abstract:
The fundamental conclusion of this project is that the enhanced removal of vegetation: erosion of soil and rock and the consequential increased runoff of water. is a widespread problem in the British uplands.:Where ac.ademic study has failed to yield evidence of this, anecdotal and photographic evidence has managed to do so. The net effects. of this enhanced erosion have severe impacts on the functions of the Environment Agency and the wider economy. It would appear .that the>impact of intensive grazing pressure forms a large-component of the cause of the problem. However, other mechanisms do cause soil erosion in the uplands. ,.The creation of bare soil from the effects of agents such as fire, bracken control and forestry exacerbates the impacts of other erosion mechanisms. The presence of grazing animals on such areas of bare soil increases the erosion rates and retards the return of vegetation (which has the -. potential to reduce erosion and runoff). In general; agriculture has become more intensive, especially in lowland areas: in that stocking densities andthenumbers of sheep reared have risen in some locations. However, upland farming could also be considered as extensive, in terms of mass reductions.in labour. This has direct consequences for management which has effectively decreased, resulting in a lack of shepherding @e-war ratioas of shepherds to sheep were 1:2-300, today the ratio can be as large as 1:12-1500; Spensley, pers. Comm:). Therefore, .unconh-oiled livestock cause hotspots of grazing pressure and impacts from hooves. In- the past, the managkment-of the uplands and grazing animals was a sustainable,.symbiotic relationship. The numbers of sheep grazed was controlled by the amount of fodder produced by the land and the ability df the farmer to transport feed to remote moortops. Today, artificial feeds are used to sustain large flocks, and All Terrain Vehicles can transport the feeds to remote areas,. promoting year round grazing. Winter grazing is particularly damaging as the vegetation is not growing during this. period. In addition:. stressed vegetation is more. susceptible to extreme environmental conditions (e.g. drought; freezing cold) and the creation or enhancement-of bare soil is more likely when such conditions occur.. The problems caused by grazing pressures and trampling may not simply be due to the higher densities of sheep on the hills, but due to a combination of high densities of sheep and the low. numbersZof shepherds who can reduce concentrations of livestock and spread the impact of grazing and trampling. All agencies concerned with this issue should focus on the wider aspects of the catchment, not just discrete areas (e.g. moorlands, ESAs, SSSIs, LFAs). Long-term data sets are required to quantify the problem; these are currently unavailable. However, the areas affected by erosion and high runoff (e.g. Swaledale) do have people living and-working in them and they could be considered as alaboratoriesa which have had long-term R and Q Project Record P2/035/9 X experiments running in them. It is therefore worthwhile remembering these people and using their knowledge and experiences to gain a qualitative understanding of the problems. However, this type of information should not be used as a basis for remediation strategies, qualitative datasets are also required. It is apparent from the review of literature conducted in Part Two of this report that the academic community has a full variety of conclusions on the subject of grazing, erosion and runoff which are often at odds with each other. The variety of findings from the study of the subject can be attributed to the scale at which the problem or process is viewed. Generally, experimental catchments are small and therefore tend to be non-representative. An overall model is required as different effects occur at different scales. To achieve this, long-term studies need to be initiated in a variety of different catchments. A final consideration involves the timescale over which erosion problems are viewed. For example, there will be another glaciation in the future, the effects of which will mask the impacts of grazing induced erosion seen today. Alternatively, if a long return-period flood event occurs, such as that seen in Eastern Europe during July 1997, the impacts on the landscape will negate the physical scars of grazing induced erosion. However: while the effects of current upland erosion may be regarded as small-scale when compared to events such as glaciations, they are obviously of great significance to current ecological and socio-economic systems. Everyone who has become involved in the uplands in any way (for example, farmers, conservationists, and walkers) has a responsibility for their physical and biological well-being. The actions of humans in the uplands will also ,affect other ecological and socio-economic systems in the lowlands. Instead of being fatalistic about the impact of large scale physical events, we should be positive about the natural importance of these areas and promote their longevity as part of an overall strategy of sustainable development.
Publisher: Environment Agency
Subject Keywords: Runoff; Upland areas; Erosion; Livestock; Grazing
Extent: 172
Permalink: http://www.environmentdata.org/archive/ealit:4682
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