What is a landscape characterized by grazing?- and how is it preserved in a changing climate?
In the environmental quality objective A Magnificent Mountain Landscape, it is stated that the pristine character of the mountain environment must be largely preserved, in terms of biological diversity, recreational value and natural and cultural assets. The reindeer management regime plays a central role in fulfilling these objectives, since almost the entire Swedish mountain landscape is grazed by reindeer. A more general understanding of how the current vegetation is shaped by reindeer grazing, how vegetation change when reindeer is excluded, and how these changes interact with other herbivores and climatic conditions is essential for evaluating how different reindeer management regimes will obtain the specific goals within this objective. The overall aim of this project is thus to investigate how reindeer influence the mountain vegetation in order to determine features of a landscape characterized by grazing, and evaluate how different reindeer management regimes and climate will determine future vegetation patterns and biodiversity. To achieve this we will examine how effects of excluding reindeer on vegetation vary across gradients in reindeer densities and climatic conditions in the Scandinavian mountains, and assess the importance of these findings in relationship to the environmental quality objectives.