This Research Topic intends to illustrate and synthesize the diversity of ongoing research on the origin, conservation, and restoration of European natural, semi-natural grasslands in response to major environmental drivers of global change, evolution of agriculture, urbanization, and emerging rewilding strategy.
Natural and Semi-Natural Grassland Ecosystems (NSG) represent high-value biodiversity hotspots for biodiversity of the European continent, as well as an invaluable cultural heritage forged through millennia of human-nature interactions. While pristine natural European grasslands result mainly from constrained specific climatic and soil conditions, semi-natural grasslands largely result from the activities of humans and their livestock (e.g. grazing, mowing, burning) during millennia of low-intensity land use.
European NSG, their biodiversity, and the cultural heritage they represent are highly threatened since the beginning of the 20th century in a context of multifactorial global change including environmental dimensions (climate change, habitat fragmentation, pollution, biological invasions) and land-use changes with the accelerating of socio-economic evolution of agricultural practices (intensification or abandonment) and urbanization.
The extent and time-scale of global change challenge our present understanding and practices of conservation and restoration of European NSG. Emerging novel urban ecosystems and new practices of restoration such as rewilding, with a focus on spontaneously forest-dominated European landscape, also put in question the future of NSG. In this context, the future of European NSG can only be fully understood in light of their origin.
The issue covers the full range of European grasslands from pristine to urban and green-roof grasslands, and all the scales of ecological organization, from population to bio-region. Contributions addressing case-studies from the Eurasian region are welcomed. Reviews and original research papers will be considered.