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Drivers, Process, and Consequences of Native Grassland Degradation: Insights from a Literature Review and a Survey in Río de la Plata Grasslands

1
Agro-Climate and Information System Unit (GRAS), National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA Uruguay), Ruta 48 KM.10, Canelones 90200, Uruguay
2
Pastures and Forages National Research Program, National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA Uruguay), Ruta 5 KM.386, Tacuarembó 45000, Uruguay
3
International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050239
Received: 23 March 2019 / Revised: 3 May 2019 / Accepted: 5 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grassland Management for Sustainable Agroecosystems)
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Abstract

Natural grasslands are being progressively degraded around the world due to human-induced action (e.g., overgrazing), but there is neither a widely accepted conceptual framework to approach degradation studies nor a clear definition of what “grassland degradation” is. Most of the drivers, processes, and consequences related to grassland degradation are widespread and are usually separately quoted in the literature. In this paper, we propose a comprehensive framework with different conceptual categories, for monitoring grassland degradation, and a new definition based on current ones. We provide a conceptual update of grassland degradation based on a literature review and an expert survey, focused on the Río de la Plata grasslands (RPG). We identified “drivers” as external forces or changes that cause degradation; “processes” as measurable changes in grasslands conditions that can be evaluated using indicators; and “consequences” as the impacts or results of the process of grassland degradation. We expect that this conceptual framework will contribute to monitoring programs, to support management decisions, to design conservation measures, and to communicate the importance of grasslands conservation and the different concepts involved. Particularly for RPG, we expect that this paper will contribute to promote sustainable management practices in this important and often neglected ecosystem. View Full-Text
Keywords: productivity; forage; biomass; species diversity; indicators; grazing productivity; forage; biomass; species diversity; indicators; grazing
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Tiscornia, G.; Jaurena, M.; Baethgen, W. Drivers, Process, and Consequences of Native Grassland Degradation: Insights from a Literature Review and a Survey in Río de la Plata Grasslands. Agronomy 2019, 9, 239.

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