Theme 6: Pastoralism--Oral Sessions

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High Human Development achievements across Europe explain the situation of pastoralism in the region. While its economic importance has dwindled over the last century in terms of livelihood provision, pastoralism is nonetheless key for supporting rural population - especially in the areas of lower agricultural potential - and for delivering ecosystem services in vast areas. The mainstreaming of scientific research means that pastoralism is increasingly recognized as a sustainable livelihood by the European general public. In spite of this better press, the advanced average age of European pastoralists and the increased gender imbalances pose great sustainability risks in the short- to medium-term. Some pastoralism-shaped ecosystems such as the Southern Finland pastures have already collapsed. Negative climate change narratives around pastoralism are triggering climate action plans that threaten extensive, highly biodiverse pastoralism landscapes in various countries, such as the British highlands. The process of agricultural intensification and rural abandonment in Europe poses other threats, such as poor service delivery and increasing human-wildlife conflicts, notably with disease-carrying forest species such as the wild boar or some predators that are experiencing a comeback.

For pastoralism to survive in Europe, the holistic role of pastoralism in ecosystem conservation as a whole should be recognized. This includes changes in the Common Agricultural Policy, especially at the national level of implementation (also eco-schemes, rural development interventions), to incorporate payments for ecosystem services that eliminate the competitive disadvantage with more intensive production systems. Encouraging urban, young people to become pastoralists, as well as promoting preventive measures for human-wildlife-conflict, rather than compensatory ones, are also urgent and necessary steps.

Knowledge gaps still persist that hinder effective policy and advocacy action. Better understanding will come from effective collection of national and continental statistics related specifically to rangelands and pastoralists; improved integration of traditional ecological knowledge into policy and land management at a continental scale; and building on the history of how pastoralism has shaped and maintained European natural landscapes. Landscapes in Europe are not as dominated by forests as the general public and most of academia usually believe.

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Challenges of Pastoralism and Rangelands in Europe

High Human Development achievements across Europe explain the situation of pastoralism in the region. While its economic importance has dwindled over the last century in terms of livelihood provision, pastoralism is nonetheless key for supporting rural population - especially in the areas of lower agricultural potential - and for delivering ecosystem services in vast areas. The mainstreaming of scientific research means that pastoralism is increasingly recognized as a sustainable livelihood by the European general public. In spite of this better press, the advanced average age of European pastoralists and the increased gender imbalances pose great sustainability risks in the short- to medium-term. Some pastoralism-shaped ecosystems such as the Southern Finland pastures have already collapsed. Negative climate change narratives around pastoralism are triggering climate action plans that threaten extensive, highly biodiverse pastoralism landscapes in various countries, such as the British highlands. The process of agricultural intensification and rural abandonment in Europe poses other threats, such as poor service delivery and increasing human-wildlife conflicts, notably with disease-carrying forest species such as the wild boar or some predators that are experiencing a comeback.

For pastoralism to survive in Europe, the holistic role of pastoralism in ecosystem conservation as a whole should be recognized. This includes changes in the Common Agricultural Policy, especially at the national level of implementation (also eco-schemes, rural development interventions), to incorporate payments for ecosystem services that eliminate the competitive disadvantage with more intensive production systems. Encouraging urban, young people to become pastoralists, as well as promoting preventive measures for human-wildlife-conflict, rather than compensatory ones, are also urgent and necessary steps.

Knowledge gaps still persist that hinder effective policy and advocacy action. Better understanding will come from effective collection of national and continental statistics related specifically to rangelands and pastoralists; improved integration of traditional ecological knowledge into policy and land management at a continental scale; and building on the history of how pastoralism has shaped and maintained European natural landscapes. Landscapes in Europe are not as dominated by forests as the general public and most of academia usually believe.