Beyond upland exclosures: what is the effect of low-intensity grazing on carbon storage?

Stuart William Smith, Charlotte Vandenberghe,, Astley Francis St John Hastings, David Johnson, Robin Pakeman, Rene Van Der Wal, Sarah Jane Woodin

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Land management is a key control of terrestrial carbon (C) storage and can be used to mitigate rising CO2 emissions. The UK uplands hold approximately one-third of national terrestrial C in their soils. The dominant land-use is extensive livestock grazing management. However, our understanding of the impact of grazing on upland C storage is limited to studies comparing the presence versus the absence of herbivores. Utilising a grazing density manipulation we show no sheep and low-intensity sheep grazing provide similar benefits, in that they enhance plant and soil C accumulation. In contrast, under high-intensity sheep grazing there is a net loss in predicted soil C accumulation. We propose that low-intensity sheep grazing is optimal to sustain the diversity of key upland species, compared to high-intensity grazing and no sheep. We provide evidence that low-intensity sheep grazing can be used to minimise trade-offs between multiple upland land-use objectives, namely species conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventSRUC and SEPA Biennial Conference - Agriculture and the Environment X - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Apr 2014 → …

Conference

ConferenceSRUC and SEPA Biennial Conference - Agriculture and the Environment X
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityEdinburgh
Period15/04/14 → …

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    Smith, S. W., Vandenberghe, C., Hastings, A. F. S. J., Johnson, D., Pakeman, R., Van Der Wal, R., & Woodin, S. J. (2014). Beyond upland exclosures: what is the effect of low-intensity grazing on carbon storage?. Paper presented at SRUC and SEPA Biennial Conference - Agriculture and the Environment X, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.