Perception and Management of Spatio-temporal Pasture Heterogeneity by Hungarian Herders

Date and Time: 
Friday, 17 May, 2013 - 13:50 to 14:10
MOLNÁR, Zsolt, MTA Centre for Ecological Research

Herders’ perception, and management of spatial and temporal heterogeneity of pastures were studied. 78 herders living in the Hortobágy saline steppe, Hungary, were interviewed, and participatory observation was used to understand their plant and habitat knowledge and herding and habitat improvement techniques. Herders had a nuanced knowledge of the intra- and interannual variations of forage quality and quantity. They performed very strong herding. The daily spatial pattern of grazing was opportunistic and flexible, but had a more-or-less regular year-round cycle, in which marshes and stubbles provided forage in drought periods. Reciprocal learning and continuous communication between the herder and his animals determined grazing pattern. Herders improved different habitats in different ways. The main method was proper grazing supplemented by manuring, burning, removal of spiny weeds.