The history and activities of the FAO/CIHEAM Research and Development Network on Pasture and Fodder Crops

The network has been created in 1978. It aims at exchanging scientific and technical information, managing working groups on targeted research activities that lead to the development of common methodologies and results, development of research projects, publications, organization of technical stays and training of researchers. It includes two sub-networks: the ‘Mountain Pastures sub-network’ and the ‘Mediterranean Forage Resources subnetwork’. In 2010, it is coordinated by a network coordinator (Prof. Dr Alain Peeters. RHEA, Gentinnes, Belgium.

Importance, evolution, environmental impact and future challenges of grasslands and grassland-based systems in Europe

The importance and the diversity of grasslands and grassland-based systems are illustrated. Their multiple functions and values are highlighted. The main trends of the evolution of the systems in the last half-century are summarized including the effect of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union. Grasslands are compared with annual forage crops for forage production potential and impact on the environment. New challenges are analyzed especially in relation to agro-fuel production.

Overview of biodiversity indicators related to agriculture in Belgium

The sustainability of farming systems is currently under debate. Nowadays, agriculture has become not only a food provider but also a provider of goods and services for tourism, leisure, landscape management, nature conservation, etc. Agricultural management practices have a key impact on biodiversity conservation, a serious decline of many plant and animal species which are traditionally linked to agricultural areas has been demonstrated. Although not all impacts are negative, a need to identify and monitor pressures on biodiversity coming from agriculture has been identified.

An international terminology for grazing lands and grazing animals

In 1991, Terminology for Grazing Lands and Grazing Animals was published with the objective of ‘developing a consensus of clear definitions of terms used in the grazing of animals.’ This first effort involved primarily organiza- tions and agencies within the USA but included repre- sentation from New Zealand and Australia. It was the intent from the beginning to expand this to a truly international effort at a later date.