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 Grasslands play an important role in marginal regions of Europe where livestock production has been the traditional form of agriculture. With the expected climate and increased emphasis on sustainable agriculture these areas will become more important for food production. Grasslands provide additional ecosystem services. They are important for carbon sequestration and constitute a natural gene bank by maintaining biodiversity. They may become a valuable resource as attempts to replace fossil fuel with bio-energy gain more weight. Threats to the exploitation of marginal grasslands by severe environmental fluctuations, soil degradation through loss of organic material and nutrients, acidification and soil compaction need to be addressed. The challenge is to maintain and improve agricultural production using fewer resources. Losses to the environment should be minimised, the potential of the land maintained and economic returns ensured.



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