The design and implementation of sustainable plant diversity conservation program for alpine Meadows and pastures

Abstract
The paper describes the design and implementation of a plant biodiversity conservation program that was developed under funding and time constraints for diverse ecological, social, and institutional environments. The biodiversity program for alpine meadows and pastures located in the Swiss Canton of the Grisons is used as an example. The design of the sustainable program relied on existing legislation, accounted for limited ecological knowledge and expertise, and considered biodiversity as a common-pool resource. The trend to intensified cultivation of restricted areas required fast action, while the sustainability of the program design had to take into account institutional diversity. Fifteen habitats and plant communities worth conserving were known, and 57 plant species were identified as indicator species for establishing an inventory and for monitoring purposes. A small subset of 16 well known plant species was presented to the farming communities. They were invited to notify the areas in which they observed the presence of these plants. In different regions of the Canton a total number of 39 paraecologists were trained to inspect the areas notified by farmers and to recommend possible incorporation into the Cantonal inventory. This was done once the farmers signed a contract in which they agreed to follow adequate management practices. The farmers received subsidies to compensate for their losses. Communal authorities controlled the fertilizer input and cutting dates, while the paraecologists were trained to monitor plant biodiversity. The program started in 1992 and the initial phase of the inventory was terminated in 1996. At the beginning of 1996, an inventory of 2617.19 ha, most of which are meadows, was taken and managed according to the rules specified in the contract. The program was considered successful because (i) of the size of the area in the inventory, (ii) about 30%of the farmers participated, and (iii) farmers started cultivating previously abandoned farmland
Keywords sustainable  plant biodiversity  conservation program  alpine meadows  plant alliances
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