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Gourmelon, F., Bioret, F., Le Berre, I.: Land-use changes and implications for management of a small protected island off the coast of Bretagne. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 7: 41-48, 2001.


Abstract. Over the 20th century, reduced land cultivation has caused an extension of fallow land in several European countries, which has led to a decrease in biodiversity. Knowledge of dynamic vegetation processes and of the impact of human activities on biodiversity provides the basis for land management recommendations, as well as for wildlife management programs. We analysed land-use changes on a small protected island (Ushant, Bretagne, France) using historical documentation (1844) and aerial photographs taken in 1952 and 1992. Over this period, especially during the last 40 yr, Ushant underwent a complete transformation from rural landscape to extensive shrubland. No cultivated area remains, grazed areas were moved from the coastal fringe to the core of the island, while over 40 % of the island is fallow land. The relationship between current sheep grazing and vegetation suggests that grazed meadows used to be close to inhabited areas, i.e. 150 m outside the villages. These results allowed us to analyse landcover potential related to changes in the intensity of sheep grazing. The scenarios highlighted by our method provide an objective framework for further assessment of fallow land management.

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