ID17: Diversity and interactions in mountain livestock farming systems
Livestock systems in mountain areas around the world face accelerated transformation processes. Pressures and changes in land use, climate change effects, human migrations, changes in tourism dynamics and technological innovations are some of the main drivers of these transformations. Traditional mountain livestock systems are facing new challenges, under difficult and insecure conditions. At the same time, there is a body of academic literature as well as valuable policy experiences that demand careful analysis of the ongoing processes. An assessment of the evolution trajectories within such diverse and complex socio-ecological systems provides an insight at the evolution of livelihoods in the mountain primary sector. In the Project Highlands.3 we compare local initiatives and projects in different mountains worldwide, which will be presented in this Focus Session. In addition to that, we call for papers that address theoretical/analytical discussions and practical experiences of livestock farming systems in mountain areas.
Abstract ID 319 | Date: 2022-09-14 10:00 – 10:10 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
Gomez, Carlos; Barrantes, Cecilio; Viera, Mario
Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Peru
Keywords: Andes, Cattle, Sheep, Alpaca, Climate Change
An analysis of the population of cattle, sheep and alpacas in the Andes of Peru is presented. The last census of 2012 reports 3774, 8972 and 3685 thousands head of cattle, sheep and alpaca, which represents 73, 94 and 99% of the national total for each species, respectively. In 1961; 2367, 21515, and 2337 thousands head of cattle, sheep, and alpacas were reported, which were affected later by the implemented agrarian reform from 1969 to 1980. Before the agrarian reform, livestock in the Andes (more than 3,800 masl) was in the hands of communities and big farms and as an effect of this reform, big farms were converted into cooperatives that failed, ending up abandoned or parceled out. For 1972, a decrease in the population of alpacas and sheep is reported, while cattle increased. For 1994, the cattle population continued to increase by 18% compared to the previous census, likewise, the alpaca population recovered while the sheep population continued to decline. Sheep population during the agrarian reform passed into the hands of communities and small owners, with low technological levels and as a result of terrorism between 1980 and 2000, migrations were promoted from the rural sector to population centers with decapitalization mainly of sheep. Currently the number of cattle, sheep and alpacas per owner is 2.7, 6.4 and 2.6, respectively, indicative of small holder families who represent a high proportion of the total peruvian population living in extreme poverty requiring important interventions for their improvement. The decrease in the sheep sector is explained by the lack of resources to improve their genetics and technical assistance and on the low prices of wool in the international markets. In conclusion, livestock population in the Andes has been differentially affected (increase in number of cattle and alpacas and decrease in sheep), maintaining similar animal units per unit of land area for which there is available 18.7 million ha of natural pastures conflicting with mining use and areas at lower altitudes in the interandean valleys that compete with agricultural uses. The main factors that caused the changes in livestock population have been the changes in ownership due to the agrarian reform law and the lower competitiveness of sheep production in relation to cattle and alpacas. Additional changes are expected in land use due to a growing reduction in the carrying capacity of pastures in the Andes caused by the effect of climate change.
Abstract ID 111 | Date: 2022-09-14 10:10 – 10:20 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
Boga González, Rubén
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Keywords: Geographical Indications, Size, Production, Multifunctionality.
Based on endogenous and multifunctional approaches, food Geographical Indications (GIs) are widely considered as means for sustainable development in mountain areas. Their justifications include enabling farmers a higher income, contributing to the maintaining the landscape and even foster social cohesion and innovation in the territories in which they are embedded. However, these outcomes are not always achieved, but are highly dependent on a series of factors (regulations, consumers…) and on the ways GIs are constructed and managed. In this sense, most mountain areas pose specific factors associated to them such as depopulation, a peripheral situation and smaller scales of production in comparison with other agricultural areas. In this communication, we address whether size is a major factor that influences the sustainability of a GI. To explore this issue, two tiny mountain cheese productions holding a GI label have been selected: O Cebreiro, located in the Eastern Galician Mountains — Spain —, with four producers inscribed on it; and Tolminc, situated in the Julian Alps — Slovenia —, with only two registered enterprises. A qualitative methodology has been developed to deepen the perceptions and strategies of stakeholders when asked about the performance of both GIs. The fieldwork conducted has been partially funded by the EU H2020-MSCA-RISE HIGHLANDS.3 project. Although both GIs benefit directly few actors in the two selected case studies, different situations are found. In O Cebreiro, the GI has been a turning point. It has contributed to the revalorization of the traditional product, strengthening the image of the area in association with tourism and even with more farms and cheese enterprises beyond the GI taking advantage from it. Meanwhile, the label has been anecdotal for Tolminc cheese production. In this case, it failed to include traditional producers, which are the ones who preserve the mountain landscape with their cattle, being the GI practically monopolized by one company as a trademark. If for the former the sustainability of the production clearly depends on the GI, that's not the case for the latter. Given that, the size of a GI is not a critical conditioning factor in achieving it. The sustainability and value of tiny GIs should be assessed by considering the extent to which they are able to extend their impact to the broader community of the area where they are embedded.
Abstract ID 509 | Date: 2022-09-14 10:20 – 10:30 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
Teston, Marta (1); Karatzia, Maria Anastasia (2); Tsiokos, Dimitrios (2); Ligda, Christina (3); Santos, Luis (4); Sturaro, Enrico (1)
1: University of Padova, Italy
2: Research Institute of Animal Science, ELGO-Dimitra, Greece
3: Veterinary Research Institute, ELGO-Dimitra, Greece
4: Instituto Politécnico de Tomar, Portugal
Keywords: Local Sustainable Development, Mountain Areas, Farming Systems, Local Initiatives, Highlands.3
In the last decades, mountain livestock farming systems have been affected by a strong abandonment mainly due to a lack of generational turnover and the increasing competition with other economic sectors. Livestock farming systems located in mountain areas, due to their free grazing characteristics, provide a series of benefits to human well-being, known as Ecosystem Services (ES), such as landscape maintenance, as well as safeguarding cultural heritage and biodiversity. Besides, these type of livestock systems are characterized by high feed self-sufficiency with low off-farms inputs as they are mainly based on natural pastures and meadows. As the title suggests, this study presents the methodology adopted during the first Research & Innovation Session (R&IS) which took place in the Regional Natural Park of Livradois-Forez (France) and in the Catalan Pyrenees (Spain) in September and October 2021. This study is part of the HIGHLANDS.3 project, funded by the European Union, aiming at the promotion of sustainable development in mountain areas involving different local initiatives and using an integrated inclusive approach. A semi-structured interview scheme resulting from the multidisciplinary Highlands.3 process, contributed by experts from different fields such as agronomy, veterinary science, geography and forestry, was used to interview stakeholders from Epirus region (Greece) and the abovementioned areas. The interview included general, social, economic, environmental and cultural features, closing with a brief future perspectives question. The qualitative data collected during the interviews was used to create a database which included all initiatives and was made accessible to all stakeholders, in order to promote the inter-sector cooperation and good practices. Farmers can share their knowledge and advice to contribute to local sustainable development, thus awarding added value to mountain areas. The interviews revealed that initiative stakeholders agreed that it is not only important to sell a high-quality product but also to convey to the consumer the environmental benefits and cultural heritage that these low-input traditional farming systems maintain. Indeed, initiative stakeholders agreed that in addition to European funding there should be local development projects. This trans-disciplinary approach as well as the information on social, cultural and economic context of initiatives collected during the interview could give indications about future livestock management as well as promote the collaboration between farmers and managers of local initiatives to ensure the sustainable use of local resources.
Abstract ID 371 | Date: 2022-09-14 10:30 – 10:40 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
Raniolo, Salvatore (1); Cournut, Sylvie (3); Cournut, Eric (2); Michaud, Audrey (3); Cremilleux, Maeva (3); Lind, Vibeke (4); Karlsen, Gustav (5); Squartini, Andrea (1); Benedetti Del Rio, Elena (1); Ramanzin, Maurizio (1); Sturaro, Enrico (1)
1: University of Padova, Italy
2: Parc Naturel Régional Livradois-Forez, France
3: VetAgro Sup, France
4: NIBIO, Norway
5: LOFOTLAM SA, Norway
Keywords: Highland Grasslands, Sustainability, Multifunctionality, Highlands.3
Highland grasslands are important agroecosystems characterized by a multifunctionality involving environmental, social, and economic dimensions. Their management by livestock systems plays an important role for the maintenance of biodiversity, ecosystem services and local productions. However, the assessment of management sustainability and multifunctionality of highland grasslands is still a challenge because it requires multidisciplinary approaches, which are difficult to connect and lack a reference. The aim of this study is to build an integrated methodological approach at different scales, implementing the environmental, social, and economic dimensions to assess both the sustainability and multifunctionality of highland grasslands in the European context at the patch, farm, or regional scale. The study is part of the EU-funded HIGHLANDS.3 project (H2020-MSCA-RISE), which aims to promote inclusive sustainable development in highlands. The research involves the Parc Naturel Régional Livradois-Forez (France) and Lofotlam SA (Norway), as non-academic partners, and NIBIO (Norway), VetAgro Sup (France) and University of Padova (Italy) as academic ones. The study was conducted between spring and autumn 2021 in three study areas (the Alps in Italy, the Massif Central in France and the Lofoten islands in Norway) and involved 19 livestock farms (12 dairy cows, 5 sheep , and 2 goat). The data collection integrates three different methodologies to cover the multidimensionality of the agroecosystems and their management: 1) structured interviews to farmers are used to frame the social and economic dimensions, defining local and general aspects for farm management of animals, productions, and grassland; 2) remote sensing (Google Earth Engine) is used to describe the environmental conditions (slope, altitude, exposition, climate): 3) soil physical (texture), chemical (total and organic Carbon, total Nitrogen, Phosphorus, pH and cation-exchange capacity) and molecular analyses based on sequencing to characterize microbial biodiversity and amplification of specific genes as marker for ecosystem functions (nitrous oxide consumption, nitrification and methane production). The preliminary results are presented to offer an example of integrated approach useful to address the role of livestock farming systems for the inclusive and sustainable development in highlands.
Abstract ID 675 | Date: 2022-09-14 10:40 – 10:50 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
Nota, Ginevra (1); Pittarello, Marco (1); Ravetto Enri, Simone (1); Barberis, Davide (1); Pagani, Rebecca (1); Lonati, Michele (1); Frund, David (2); Svenks, Mia (2); Probo, Massimiliano (2); Lombardi, Giampiero (1)
1: University of Torino, DISAFA, Italy
2: Agroscope, Grazing Systems, Switzerland
Keywords: Agroforestry, Feeding Preferences, Highland Breed, Restoration, Woody Encroachment
Since the 1950s, the surface occupied by woody-encroached pastures, shrublands and forests in European mountains has dramatically increased due to agro-pastoral abandonment. The exploitation of these habitats by livestock is challenging due to low forage quality and difficult accessibility. However, if grazed by robust breeds, such as the Highland cattle, these habitats could represent a valuable feeding source for sustainable livestock farming and have clear management advantages such as the provision of alternative forages during grass shortage periods and shade relief.
To ascertain how Highland cattle could adapt to mountain woody-encroached environments, we analyzed their feeding behavior in four contrasting sites in the Italian and Swiss Western Alps. The study sites ranged in elevation from 480 to 1750 m a.s.l., and were representative of different vegetation communities. Cattle behavior was recorded at regular intervals through direct observations of 29 animals. For each observation, the plant species consumed and those available in a 1-m buffer area around the animal were identified and their relative consumption and abundance recorded on a percent scale. Herbaceous plants were pooled in a broad category, while woody plants were identified at the species level. From these data, we determined (i) the diet composition, (ii) the Jacob's Selectivity Index (JSI) of woody plants, and (iii) the relation between species consumption and abundance.
Overall, 11'356 observations were recorded during 150 hours. Highland cattle diet comprised a large proportion (15-46%) and variety (45 different species) of woody plants, including also spiny shrubs such as Prunus spinosa and Rosa sp. According to JSI, cattle expressed a clear feeding selection towards woody plants: Celtis australis, Frangula alnus and Rhamnus alpinus were among the preferred species (JSI > 1), Alnus viridis, Picea abies, and Populus tremula were consumed proportionally to their availability (JSI = 1), while Corylus avellana, P. spinosa and Sorbus aria were among the avoided ones (JSI < 1). The relation between species consumption and their abundance differed depending on their preference index, with preferred species consumed even at low abundance and avoided ones consumed only at high abundance.
The remarkable consumption of woody plants by Highland cattle, together with their great agility on rough terrain, resistance to cold weather, and low demand of veterinary assistance, could encourage the use of this breed in marginal mountain areas, likely reducing woody encroachment and enhancing forage quality and other ecosystem services (e.g., plant diversity, landscape quality, and tourism attractiveness).
Abstract ID 116 | Date: 2022-09-14 10:50 – 11:00 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
Eurac Research, Institute for Regional Development
Keywords: Mountain Livestock Farming, Herd Protection, Adaptation Process
Traditional mountain livestock farming in the Alps is confronted with different socio-economic transformation processes that involve a decline in farms and livestock units in recent decades. An additional pressure is the return of the wolf, which requires an adaptation of grazing and surveillance systems, especially in the most vulnerable summer pasture areas. With the absence of this predator in the last 150 years, pasture management has changed, and livestock protection measures were abandoned to a large extent. Today, a considerable smaller number of livestock still spends the summer on mountain pastures in the Alps, but often unattended, also to save financial costs and time. This free-grazing practice causes considerable damage due to wolf depredation. Nevertheless, especially in the mountain regions, with harsher natural conditions than in the valleys, stakeholder doubt the compatibility of livestock protection measures with the present local circumstances. Besides the conflict with direct predation losses, the main arguments against protection measures are unaffordable additional costs and workload leading to a potential abandonment of mountain summer pastures. Therefore, these measures are often rejected.
The European LIFEstockProtect project tries to encounter this development in the German speaking area of the Alps, namely Bavaria, Austria and Alto Adige/Südtirol (IT). Using a bottom-up approach, capacity building training on livestock protection will take place through farmers' associations to implement effective strategies for the coexistence with wolves and preserve also small-scale livestock breeding for the future. Additionally, scientific activities will investigate the environmental impact of grazing on the site-specific biodiversity and define parameters to measure the feasibility of livestock protection in the Alpine ecosystem. Collaboration with and learning from farmers is key, also regarding the testing of fence materials, the establishment of volunteer networks and ambassador activities. In this context, the project will not limit its focus solely on livestock protection but wants to create awareness for the importance of mountain livestock farming for the landscape, recreation and local tradition. Based on that, it will elaborate potential benefits for the local community in regard to animal welfare, valorisation of local products and touristic opportunities.
Abstract ID 615 | Date: 2022-09-14 11:00 – 11:10 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
Keywords: Diversification, Territory, Cow, Pig, Market
In mountains area of French Massif Central, many farms are multi-species livestock systems, with various associations of animal productions. This farm diversification is well adapted to heterogeneous productivity of mountain areas. However, in the global context of pressure to minimize costs and to concentrate productions in economic sectors, the challenge is hard for the livestock sector to maintain these diversified systems. Situation, prospects and diversity of mixed-livestock systems in mountain areas are insufficiently analysed in order to define supports for the future of these livestock farms. There is a lack of knowledge about their size of production units, labour force, demography, types of products, paths to commercialization and future changes. Recently, the French mountain pig sector coordinate an original research-development program focus on livestock farms combining cow and pig productions in the Massif Central. The objective is to characterize the diversity of the 1000 mix cow-pig systems in this mountains area to precise theirs location, forms, dynamics, strengths and weaknesses, need support. We mobilize several sources of information: a professional database on all pig units of the Massif Central, a postal survey on 1/5 of the pig breeders, and some direct surveys of breeders. The analysis highlight contrasted spatial concentration, size, markets and prospects of the mix cow-pig systems in the Massif Central. The spatial concentration of pig units is more marked in parts of the Massif edges, and each part is different in term of ruminant associated to pig production and in term of pig marketing organisation. Size and prospects of the pig units are significantly different between beef and dairy cattle farms and areas. Such geographical, technical and economical differences among these multi-species livestock systems in a mountain area indicate their strong potential of adaptation in spite of their low number of farms and in spite of the global pressure for their standardization. The links of these livestock farms to pig market actors is also variable in the territory, in view of their relation to producers groups, to independent animal merchant or to consumers. Consequently, in some areas, the maintenance of these diversified pig units will depend mainly of local actors and theirs supports to local markets and process tools ; in others areas, this maintenance will depend of marketing strategies adopted by producers groups to compensate the low concentration of productions.
Abstract ID 936 | Date: 2022-09-14 11:10 – 11:20 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
Sandoval Calderón, Ana Patricia; Hautier, Yann; Soons, Merel; Van Kuijk, Marijke
Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Keywords: Grasslands, Biodiversity, Tropics, Grazing, Funtional-Traits
Andean grasslands diversity and ecosystem functioning are threatened due to changes in climate and land use intensification. We studied to what extent grazing intensity (GI) and its interaction with abiotic factors explain plant diversity in northwestern Bolivia. We hypothesize that grazing and abiotic factors are regulating diversity of grasslands under a regime of low nutrient and water availability so that higher GI relates to lower diversity. This is relevant for the conservation of grasslands to secure the stability of primary productivity and therefore the economy of indigenous communities facing the challenges of climate change. However, the extent to which changes in herbivore-plant interactions are regulating plant diversity is not well understood for large areas in the Andes and shifts in trait values within the grasslands remain equivocal. We investigated multiple measures of diversity along a gradient of GI in six indigenous communities. We installed 105 plots maintaining constant aspect and slope. For each plot we measured species cover, leaf traits of dominant species and soil parameters. Climatic conditions were extracted from global databases. Results show that abiotic factors correlate strongly with altitude, i.e. pH and mean annual temperature are regulating changes in species composition at the plot level. Ordination analysis confirms that those abiotic variables explain the distribution of plant communities along the study area. At a larger scale, for sites with higher biotic homogenization GI seems to be an important factor regulating diversity. Plant communities where GI and precipitation seasonality are main regulators are characterized by higher Specific Leaf Area (SLA) and Leaf Nitrogen Content (LNC) and plant communities where altitude is the main regulator are characterized by higher Leaf Dry Matter Content (LDMC) and Leaf Carbon Content (LCC). These results are aligned with other studies in the Andes where high SLA is associated with lower costs of leaf construction and higher rates of herbivory, whereas plants with low SLA seem to predominate when GI is moderate or low and at higher altitude. Overall, grasslands' diversity at the humid puna of Bolivia is regulated by interdependent factors including climate, nutrient availability and GI. Further research can be undertaken to confirm whether the long history of grazing has favoured the dominance of short plants with high regrowth at sites with lower beta diversity. This study highlights the importance of investigating the impact of grazing intensification at diferent spatial scales to provide information concerning changes on ecosystem functioning and stability.
Abstract ID 783 | Date: 2022-09-14 11:20 – 11:30 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
Whitaker, Sarah Henry (1); Bellato, Alessandro (2)
1: Emory University, USA
2: University of Torino, Italy
Keywords: Livestock, Animal Welfare, Socioeconomic Factors, Ecology, Microbiology
Historically, livestock farming was a fundamental part of the economy in the mountainous Garfagnana region of northern Tuscany, Italy. Cattle and sheep were raised on the slopes of the Apuan Alps and the Apennine Mountains. Recent social and ecological changes, though, have led to widespread abandonment of the sector. Nonetheless, today, livestock farming has an outsized impact on landscape and ecology as well as local identity and culture. This paper describes the social and ecological context of livestock farming in Garfagnana, tracing how this context has changed over time to shape current livestock farming systems and local landscapes and ecology. Then, it outlines a project underway to add-value to each step of the livestock and dairy production chain in order to favor economic growth and contribute to the survival of livestock farming. In particular, the paper focuses on the interlinked socio-ecological and animal welfare dimensions of the production chain.
At present, livestock farming in Garfagnana is under threat from economic, social, and ecological challenges that require novel approaches if the sector is to survive. Among these challenges is the low price-per-liter paid by purchasers for milk and the imminent threat that purchasers will cease collecting milk in Garfagnana because of the relative isolation and limited number of producers in the region. Farmers also face increasing expenses, challenging bureaucratic hurdles, and environmental and climate changes that threaten farm survival.
In response to these realities, local livestock farmers and breeder associations in collaboration with universities and local government have undertaken a project to add-value to each phase of the mountain livestock and dairy supply chain in an effort to revitalize the sector and protect natural and cultural livestock heritage, including the unique Garfagnina breed of cattle and sheep.
In this paper, we focus on two interlinked aspects of the project, animal welfare and the socio-ecological context of livestock farming in Garfagnana. The socio-ecological analysis has revealed the economic, social, and ecological constraints on livestock farming that shape management strategies as well as the opportunities that come with farming in this particular rural, mountainous area. These constraints and opportunities play out in unique ways on livestock farms and can shape animal welfare. Alongside this analysis, we examined farm management strategies and the microbiological profile of milk from livestock farms in Garfagnana. Based on the results, we provide suggestions for how to increase animal welfare and promote the livestock sector in Garfagnana.
Abstract ID 812 | Date: 2022-09-14 11:30 – 11:40 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room U3 |
University of Goettingen, Germany
Keywords: Agricultural Heritage Systems, Participatory Action, Local Knowledge, Terraced Landscape, Social Intervention
In recent years, conservation on agricultural heritages gets more and more attention from landscape sustainability scientists and actors. Since 2002, the designation of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) has been funded by FAO aim to preserve the social-ecological values of the outstanding traditional agricultural landscapes. Local people practice their accustomed experienced life behaviors which include various traditional knowledge but without keeping a watchful eye on. In the context of land abandonment, out-migration and crop structural adjustment, the traditional knowledge banded with the local agricultural landscape and society is confronted with destruction. How to inherit the traditional knowledge is vital for conserving the agricultural heritage system and needs to take into a specific case to demonstrate. We investigated the indigenous knowledge system and launched participatory actions in Shexian Dryland Stone Terraced System in Taihang Mountain North China since 2015 when the local decided to apply GIAHS designation.
At the beginning stage, we collected and addressed the key elements of the system. Later we implemented a series of participatory actions to appeal local people to aware the traditional knowledge and how it could be in their routine life. Through the outside cases and storytelling to show particularity and values of their familiar but imperceptible local traditions. We used the interactive social learning method to cultivate the ability and to motivate the conservation passion of local people. Especially, the farming knowledge of the terraced system constructed a social solidarity symbol to promote endogenous power of the local community to their terraced system. This case of empowering the local gives us inspiration to do comparison analysis with the terraced landscape in Spain under the same context of the challenges. In the final, we discussed that conserve the local knowledge by the social intervention is more important and effective than simply conserving the landscape scenery and updating the technical equipment.