Why do we need to preserve semi-natural grasslands?
Can we not let the forest recolonise them?
These are complex questions that have no simple answers but considerations of the costs and benefits of various conservation options. We must therefore start by asking: what do we lose with grasslands?
Certainly, many plant species typical of open environments. But while most of these are present in various regions of Italy and Europe, some are only found in the regions covered by the LIFE ShepForBio project.
The careful monitoring of the project areas revealed the presence of two species typical of open environments and restricted to the northern Apennines:
Murbeckiella zanonii, belonging to the cruciferous family and endemic to the Tuscan-Emilian-Romagna Apennines found at Pratomagno.
Sesleria pichiana, a grassland endemic to Italy in the central-northern sector and found at Eremo Nuovo intervention area.
Both of these species are included in the Red List of the Italian Flora in the ‘least concern’ category and indicate the need to conserve grasslands in the project regions.