Restoration and Rehabilitation of Species-Rich Grassland Ecosystems in France: a Review



In France the alteration of species-rich grasslands is due mainly to agriculture and civil engineering projects (roadways, dams, ski resorts, etc.). The restoration of such ecosystems has been tested in many regions and after many sorts of degradation. According to the level of initial degradation, different responses can be envisioned. Some variations are presented of a general model of restoration and rehabilitation: (1) rejuvenation of fallow land by grazing with rustic animal breeds in wetlands or chalk grasslands in south and northwestern France, (2) restoration by recovery of extensive agricultural management in intensive agricultural areas such as the Rhône or Meuse Valleys, and (3) rehabilitation by appropriate ecological engineering carried out in grasslands degraded by intensification, ski-track, or civil engineering installations. Despite some positive results, these undertakings have not always had the expected effects and therefore should not provide alibis for the destruction of natural grasslands. In general, the success of such undertakings depends on the maintenance in the surrounding areas of protected seed source reservoirs and on the persistence of a diversified landscape pattern permitting connectivity between these seed sources and the restoration or rehabilitation sites.