|Many alpine regions have been used for livestock production
for centuries. However, alpine pastures, although often very rich in
species and important for the conservation of biodiversity, are not
natural habitats. A range of traditional alpine livestock systems has
produced a wide diversity of different plant communities which reflect
gradients in nutrient enrichment and grazing/mowing intensity. The plant
species they contain, although derived from many habitats, possess species
traits which enable them to persist under agricultural management. Today
many of these communities are threatened, both from intensification
and from the abandonment of traditional agriculture. In this section
we will also consider the management problems associated with the high
density of domestic animals in some places of the Alpine environment.
These include the effects of intense grazing and trampling on a landscape
scale and the changed spatial patterns of nutrient loss and nutrient enrichment.