Quantifying and optimizing grazing regimes in Greek mountain systems.
From an ecological and environmental point of view, livestock husbandry plays a very important role as there is a valuable interaction between livestock and natural resources. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the implications of livestock production systems of mountain areas of Greece for conservation ecology and pasture-land biodiversity. Overgrazing of some mountain pastures and undergrazing of others, due to the depopulation of these environmentally difficult areas, have resulted in degradation of these areas. The relationship between livestock production and nature conservation is, by its nature, complex, delicate and sensitive to local conditions. The particular combination of farming practices used can be crucial in determining the biological richness of different sites. Low-intensity livestock systems - with low use of nutrient and agrochemical inputs, relative abundance of semi-natural vegetation and relative stability of good management practices - can make a positive contribution to the nature resource base by enhancing soil quality and increasing biodiversity. Ecological studies to determine optimum stocking densities in each region should be carried out with parallel adjustment in pasture land management regulations and in incentives given to farmers, in order to facilitate sustainability, biodiversity and nature conservation.