|Vrahnakis, MS; Janišová, M; Rūsiņa, S; Török, P; Venn, S; Dengler, J: The European Dry Grassland Group (EDGG): stewarding Europe’s most diverse habitat type. – In: Baumbach, H., Pfützenreuter, S. [Eds.]: Steppenlebensräume Europas – Gefährdung, Erhaltungsmaßnahmen und Schutz: pp. 417–434, Thüringer Ministerium für Landwirtschaft, Forsten, Umwelt und Naturschutz, Erfurt., (2013)|
The aim of this article is to introduce the dry grasslands of Europe and to report on the activities of the European Dry Grassland Group (EDGG), a network of dry grassland scientists and conservatio- nists. Dry grasslands are defined here as herbaceous vegetation types, mostly dominated by grasses, that inhabit climatically or edaphically dry sites. They comprise zonal steppes, alpine dry grasslands above the timberline, azonal/extrazonal dry grasslands on sites where peculiarities of soil or relief prevent forest growth, and semi-natural dry grasslands, derived from centuries of low-intensity land use. For most taxonomic groups, dry grasslands host a proportion of Europe’s biodiversity that by far exceeds their spatial distribution and some of them are the richest plant communities worldwide at spatial scales < 100 m2. Today, both natural steppes and semi-natural dry grasslands of Europe are highly endangered through transformation into arable fields, afforestation, land use intensification and abandonment, eutrophication or biotic invasions. The EDGG, with more than 800 members from over 50 countries, acts by facilitating information exchange, cooperation and joint projects towards better understanding and more effective conservation of Europe’s dry grasslands. To this end, EDGG organises annual conferences and research expeditions, publishes an online electronic Bulletin, edits Dry Grassland Special Features in international journals, and plays an active role in the science-policy interface.