Transferring pastoral knowledge to preserve vibrant rural areas
Over millennia, pastoral societies have accumulated knowledge and skills on how to successfully manage pastoral systems. Their work contributes to maintain vibrant rural areas, benefitting the rural economy and reversing land abandonment, while it also unlocks multiple ecosystem services for the whole society.
Yet, pastoral jobs are now less attractive for younger generations and most EU countries are gradually losing their pastoral knowledge due to the ageing of farming population. The loss of pastoral knowledge leads to the unsustainable use of resources; conflicts between pastoralists and other land users; increased attacks from large carnivores; the loss of biodiversity and local livestock breeds.
Scuola Nazionale di Pastorizia
In 2021, the Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l’ Economia Agraria launches the “Scuola Nazionale di Pastorizia” (SNAP), the first national pastoral school in Italy based on the joint initiative of pastoral organisations and networks, and research groups. The school aims to foster extensive livestock management, attract workers in the agri-pastoral sector, as well as preserve and diffuse the pastoral culture, identity and added value for the territory.
The first edition of the Italian pastoral school will start in the early 2022 and it will deliver interactive, itinerant and modular trainings targeted to new shepherds as well as existing ones. The “Scuola Nazionale di Pastorizia” will gradually expand its activities and covered across the national territory and adapt its offer to different regions and socio-economic contexts, ranging across the Alps and Apennines.
Pastoral schools: a model already established in other EU countries
As explained by Michele Nori, researcher at the European University Institute and team member of the PASTRES research project, the Italian pastoral school is inspired to other existing models that, since decades, provide teaching modules on extensive livestock practices, multi-functionality, agro-pastoral resources and pastoral culture in other European countries.
For instance, since 1997 the Basque Country also hosts the the Artzain Eskola to revitalise and maintain grazing, increase the professional level of shepherds, and conserve the latxa sheep breed.
If you are looking for more good practices to ensure the transfer of pastoral knowledge in mountain areas, consult our LIFE project OREKA MENDIAN and its April 2021 booklet of good practices on the sustainable management of mountain grasslands.
30 April 2021