On Saturday, a great Citizen Engagement Activity took place in Tschengls in South Tyrol. The event named “Bridging the gap” focused on the future of the pasture farming in the region. With the return of wolves and other large predators, the alpine pasture farming is under pressure. More than 60 participants joined the event and discussed the topic with experts, guests speakers and the organisers.
Please also read: High alpine pasture to high alpine Wilderness
International support through EU funds
The event started with an explanation how the EU is supporting the local region through the supportive Cohesion Policy. There are hundreds of thousands of projects funded by the EU, a lot of them also in the region of South Tyrol. EU programmes such as Interreg, Erasmus+, LIFE and Horizon 2020 are important to mention, for example. Their goal is to give less developed regions the possibility to align to more developed regions of the EU.
Afterwards, there were presentations and interactive discussions with the participations. European Wilderness Society moderated the evening, together with our guest speakers. Participants shared their concern about their future, but also realise that livestock protection is the way to move forward. For example, there were shepherds that shared their experiences when guarding a large flock of sheep for four months in the mountains. There were participants that are starting a mobile cheese-production from protected sheep on the alpine pastures. Another participant has worked his whole life with the ‘Transhumance’ in Schnals, where sheep are travelling from the south of the alps to the north accompanied for days by shepherds and their dogs. And of course there were also many farmers that simple wanted to learn about the possibilities to protect their livestock properly. The evening marende with locally baked bread, cheese and speck, along with fresh juices provided a great opportunity to exchange more information and contacts in an informal setting afterwards.
New LIFE project on livestock protection
Focusing on this challenging issue is a new project idea, called LIFEstockProtect. Financed by the European Cohesion Policy through the LIFE programme, it brings together under the lead of agricultural organisations Austrian, Bavarian and South Tyrolean livestock owners, herd protection experts, scientists, nature conservationists and other stakeholders. This project will train and educate farmers to implement livestock protection measures, it will train livestock protection consultants, explore the impact of pastoralism on biodiversity, look at the challenges of livestock guarding dogs and tourism and support several stakeholder meetings to explore the challenges and to actively improve human-livestock-wildlife coexistence.
Broad media coverage
The event is widely covered in the media, such as the magazines ‘Der Vinschger’ here and here, South Tyrol News, Stol.it. The event was even covered on the radio station RAI Südtirol, in the Mittagsmagazin show of Dec. 16th (from min 40).
It was great to see the active involvement of so many participants. The topic of alpine pasture farming is very much debated, and with this Citizens Engagement Activity we were able to provide more information.