Extensive livestock systems and biodiversity: the case of Islay

B.H. Brak, L. Hilarides, B.S. Elbersen, W.K.R.E. van Wingerden

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional


The relationship between extensive livestock systems and biodiversity has been examined in a case study on the Island of Islay (UK). As an introduction literature and relevant policy regulations have been reviewed. Farmers have been interviewed on agricultural, ecological and socio-economic aspects of extensive livestock farming. Requirements of typical bird species have been matched with land-use, farming practices and consequent habitat diversity. Variation within and between fields appears to be an important condition for typical bird species. Vegetation has been described by means of quadrate sampling in five different grazing situations. Occurrence of typical species of wet acid grass- and moorland appears to be linked to grazing with low livestock density. Analysis results show that such typical species may be lost due to either intensification or abandonment of grazing on rough grazing fields. Recent agricultural policy measures appear to have been effective in impeding the increase of livestock numbers of the last ten years. Both rural development and environmental policy have become very important in terms of the income they provide for farmers. Recent and future changes in the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and LFASS (Less Favoured Area Support Scheme), however, yet seem to favour intensive farms over extensive ones.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWageningen
Number of pages113
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1566-7197


  • extensive livestock farming
  • livestock
  • biodiversity
  • birds
  • animal ecology
  • environmental policy
  • grazing
  • vegetation
  • uk


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