CSAM Maduro Dias, C Ortiz, CFM Vouzela, JS Madruga and AES Borba*
Received: May 14, 2018; Published: May 18, 2018
*Corresponding author: AES Borba, University of the Azores, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Research and Technology, Rua CapitãoJoãod’ Ávila, 9700-042 Angra do Heroísmo, Açores, Portugal
The wood-pasture classification encompasses a heterogeneous set of pasture and grazing systems, which can be defined as pastures with trees where animals graze , that is to say, entail animals grazing, trees, bushes and pastures. Wood-pastures perform multiple functions: they support the pasture in small communities; increase, significantly, the preservation of regional biodiversity ; and play an important role in the fight against erosion, desertification, and loss of biodiversity and forest fires [3-5]. In fact, woodlands, bushes and hedges are considered by the different authors as privileged places for the conservation of fauna and flora biodiversity.
In the Azores, especially in the higher islands (S. Jorge, Pico and Flores), farmers have drawn for centuries on winter pastures, as the windy and harsh climate doesn’t favour free animal pasture during that season. These pastures are characterized by possessing a mix of grass, bushes and trees, with variable densities, that not only protect the animals against the climate rigors but also supply them with feed. The Azorean winter pastures are a type of wood-pasture, which play an important role in the Azorean production system, where animals graze throughout the whole year, allowing them to complement their feed with sources of fibres originating from trees and bushes and supplying shelter from the adverse conditions, particularly the rain and wind and thus contributing to the animal’s well-being, which is paramount to a sustainable production system.
In parallel to the animal well-being this system provides, it may also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas resulting from animal production, as stated by Moshley et al. , whose studies concluded that the inclusion of leaves and branches from unconventional forages, namely the Pittosporum undulatum, have a mitigating effect on the CO2 and CH production. This effect contributes to reaching the 2030 European Union goals, namely the reduction of up to 40% of greenhouse gas emitted in EU territory, compared to 1990. The use of unconventional forage in the Azorean animal feed has been extensively studied since the 1980s [7-10], which allows us to conclude that these, whether natural or nutritionally enhanced, may be used in animal feed . These fibre sources must continue to be studied so as to improve its nutritional value, so they can be incorporated in bovine feed in a threefold perspective: minimize the import of fibrous feed sources; contribute to the ecological footprint reduction; and fight some of the weeds that bring the greatest harm to the Azorean natural habitat.