Conservation of Alpine Wetlands in the Pyrenees

Alpine Wetlands are valuable and rare ecosystems; these permanently waterlogged substrates are home to rich and unique plant communities.

In the Pyrenees, active raised bogs have developed during thousands of years, in precipitation-rich uplands. Such ecosystems are very acid and poor in plant nutrients, and support a restricted range of specialized species, such as bog-mosses, cottongrasses, heather, and sundews. The term “active” is used because these ecosystems still support a significant area of peat-forming vegetation.

The Barcelona University Geobotanics Research Group  conducts active research in Pyrenees active raised bogs, habitats that are extremely rare in Catalonia. This Research Group will carry out several conservation actions funded by Andrena in this habitat.

Comes de Rubió ©GeoVeg
Comes de Rubió ©GeoVeg

Reducing grazing pressure on wetlands

Goals of the project:

  • Installation of cattle exclusion fencing, in the following sensitive bogs, located in alpine areas in Alt Pirineu Natural Park:
    • Molleres de les Comes de Rubió 
    • Guerossos 
    • Farrera

These wetlands are currently suffering a strong grazing pressure. Alpine wetlands are very sensitive to disturbance, including grazing and trampling.  Trampling causes severe damage to vegetation, erosion and soil compaction. Water quality is altered, with an increase in turbidity due to sediment particles, and increased eutrofization due to excretions by livestock.

Cattle exclusion fences are useful tools for the protection of wetlands, protecting soil and the species that are supported by these habitats.

  • Monitoring vegetation structure and dynamics, water chemistry and soil composition. 

The Geobotanics Research Group will produce a report about the stewardship of Alpine Wetlands, which will include information about the effects and efficiency of cattle exclusion fences, and best practice recommendations for livestock management in these areas.

 

This project is supported by the Alt Pirineu Natural Park.