Silvopasturing: Two Products in One

Grazing domestic livestock in wooded pastures, or silvopasturing, is a common practice in many parts of the world, but became taboo in some areas, particularly the Northeast, over the past half century when foresters and conservationists began to educate farmers on the negative impacts of allowing unmanaged livestock grazing in the woods.  Damages included soil compaction, injuries to valuable trees, and the loss of regeneration due to browsing. But in the modern world of invasive plants, high land ownership costs, and mounting challenges to healthy and sustainable woodlands, it is worth taking a new look at silvopasturing as a valuable option for the management of some forested landscapes.  Silvopasturing differs from woodlot grazing of the past in that the frequency and intensity of the grazing is controlled to achieve the desired objectives.  New fencing systems, a better understanding of animal behavior and the evolution of “management intensive grazing” practices have enabled us to gain the necessary level of control over livestock to achieve positive impacts from silvopasturing. Silvopasturing, the sustainable and symbiotic production of trees, forages and livestock on the same land, is not appropriate for every farm and forest since it requires a commitment to caring for animals, managing the woods, and investing in grazing infrastructure.  It also requires managers to identify and protect special ecosystems and wildlife habitats like vernal pools and woo

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