Extensive use of grasslands

Extensive use of grasslands
Extensively used grassland is often speies-rich. © Markus Jenny

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Hunting, Nature protection

Affected habitats



Extensively used grassland is extremely important for the biotope network due to its species richness. Alongside direct extensivisation of use (e.g. zero to moderate fertilisation, no use of plant protection products, no ploughing up of grassland or sowing), low frequency of cutting (max. 2-3 times a year), together with later cutting and specific mowing techniques can also help to improve biotope functions. High cutting (mowing height 10-12 cm) can protect amphibians, ants and ground breeders. By using mosaic and phased mowing (i.e. mowing at different times on different areas), and by leaving peripheral areas unmown, food sources can be created for insects (especially bees) as well as refuges for wild fauna.


Impact in particular on Small mammals, Big mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Insects
Ecological impact  
Reduction of fragmentation or creation of new valuable habitats Extensivisation increases the permeability of the landscape matrix and thus mitigates possible barrier effects of farmland.
Improvement or preservation of habitats Species-rich grassland fulfils the habitat requirements of rare species and acts as a buffer zone between different forms of use and intensively used areas.
Element of ecological network Extensive areas of grassland are important elements of the biotope network. The impact is increased if individual areas are integrated into a network of extensively used margins and scattered dry meadows.
Other Supports groundwater and soil protection; protects against erosion.
Time of realisation for measure Months: Species-rich grassland provides valuable refuge areas, including in winter. The impact is especially high during the vegetation period.
Impact scope Local (municipality): Local planning of a network of extensively used areas and scattered species-rich meadows increases the impact of individual sites.


Implementation period Weeks: Extensive management practices can be well-integrated into land management. Some specialist equipment may be required (e.g. double blade cutting bar). Long-term strategies (min. 5 years) should be aimed for.
Frequency Recurring

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Very low (less than 1'000 EUR): Renunciation of mineral fertiliser use is subsidised to approx. €150/ha; up to approx. €300/ha is paid for adherence to provisions governing cutting times.
Socio-economic impacts Low: Enrichment of landscape appearance and therefore increased recreational value; ensures pollination of agricultural crops.
Sources of financing Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation Extensive grassland use is an element of cultural landscape/countryside management programmes and contractual nature conservation. Subsidies are therefore provided for specific extensivisation schemes.

Further information

Evaluation The promotion of extensive grassland has long formed part of cultural landscape conservation programmes and contractual nature conservation. Further information can be obtained from the relevant authorities and nature conservation organisations. Funding criteria and conditions vary widely according to country and region.
Information Other: All relevant nature conservation and agricultural authorities.

Download PDF

Find measures according to your needs

With the help of the search function you can filter out measures that are most appropriate for your context. You can e.g. choose the involved sectors or species which measures should address.