By Celsa Peiteado, WWF Spain
The COVID-19 crisis has shown us the vulnerability of our production systems, and more specifically, the need to maintain a production of healthy, good quality local food, while supporting those with knowledge on cultural practices key for the agro-ecological transition to sustainable and resilient food systems. During the first half of this year, the Dehesas and Montados project closely monitored the impact of the pandemic on extensive livestock farming, and contributed to actions in defense of this sector, hard hit by the closure of slaughterhouses, direct sales points to consumers, local markets, restaurants and hotels in Spain and Portugal.
To alleviate the impact of the pandemic on dehesas and montados, we promoted actions (#SOSCampesinado campaign) aimed at demanding that the government and its relevant ministries (Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Consumption and Health) implement measures to support the agri-food production of small-scale farming and agro-ecology. We also worked to promote and highlight farmers’ efforts through the #AplausosqueAlimentan campaign, thanking them for continuing their work despite the many difficulties they are faced with.
Photo credit: Asociación Trashumancia y Naturaleza
Coupled with this, we analyzed the barriers and opportunities facing extensive livestock farming, especially sheep and goats, in a joint report between Asociación Trashumancia y Naturaleza, WWF Spain and IUCN. Among the highlights, and on which we are already working, is the need for public infrastructures (such as slaughterhouses and municipal cutting rooms) that allow farming products to be marketed directly by the farmers, as well as the identification of sanitary and hygiene regulations that are not suitable for application in small-scale production. Meanwhile, we continued working on the farm, helping with the movement of transhumant herds and calling attention to the difficulties that shepherds and livestock face every day through social media.
In Portugal, work has been increasingly focused on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at the state level as policy and advocacy work was possible during the lockdown. Priority was given to the development of CAP’s future Strategic Plan: we met with state officials in charge, and presented proposals for the plan. At the same time, we partnered with Herdade do Freixo do Meio to promote meat and recipes using sustainably-produced food, and continued to develop payment for ecosystem services in the area by engaging with retailers to source meat from the region.
Workshop Discussions and Research Findings to Culminate in a Shared Resource on Increased Sustainability of Cultural Practices, Biodiversity and Livelihoods in Cultural andscapes
At a workshop held in March 2020, project partners explore economic practices and options that can sustain or improve the viability of cultural practices that support cultural landscapes across the Mediterranean.
“The Roots of Overgrazing in Morocco: a pastoralist’s perspective” is based on the findings of a study that delved into customary laws and traditions, land use changes, wider socio-political and economic changes and pressures, and suggests some key solutions from a pastoralist perspective.
“An economic analysis of transhumance in the Central Spanish Pyrenees” empirically evaluates mobile pastoralists’ claims that transhumance, a specific type of long-distance herd mobility, is a more profitable system compared to semi-extensive production in the Central Spanish Pyrenees.
Mediterranean partners step up advocacy and lobbying efforts to promote policy changes in favour of agro-silvo-pastoral systems by contributing to the development of the EU Common Agricultural Policy beyond 2020, and more.
Engaged mayors and locals reveal a wealth of information on communal governance systems in Hima Anjar and Hima Kfar Zabad, in the Shouf Reserve in Lebanon, providing crucial input to identifying best methods and practices to encourage community engagement and public participation in biodiversity conservation.
Two new resources are available online: “Links between agricultural practices and biodiversity in Mediterranean Landscapes” (report and factsheet) documents cases across our pilot landscapes and the Mediterranean basin, while “the legacy of the land” is a visual tool that can be used to communicate the importance of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes.
Efforts to Inscribe the “Mandra-System” of Lemnos Island in the National Inventory of Intangible Heritage Underway
Following the successful proposal submission to inscribe melipasto/melichloro cheese in the National Inventory of the Intangible Heritage of Greece, effort is now afoot to develop a proposal for another element of the intangible heritage of Lemnos, that of the ‘mandra system’.
Reintroduced Nubian Ibex Species in the West Bekaa Caught on Camera, While Restoration Work of Degraded Pastures are underway
Camera traps capture images that show the reintroduction of the Nubian Ibex to the Shouf Biosphere Reserve in Lebanon, while implementation of a management and restoration plan for degraded high mountain pastures in the Himas of West Bekaa is underway.
Results from Years of Research on Biological and Cultural Diversity in the Moroccan High Atlas now Available in an Online Database
In the Moroccan High Atlas, the Global Diversity Foundation launched an integrative and living biocultural database for those interested in learning about the rich biological and cultural diversity in the region, developed and distributed a colourful booklet on local and useful plant products, and distributed medicinal and aromatic plants to High Atlas families.
For years nutritionists have extolled the virtues of a Mediterranean diet, now environmental NGOs like WWF are calling for us to improve our health and the environment by following the Med. The #MedFoodHeroes campaign from 15-27 June coordinated by @RootedEveryday celebrates the rich cuisine the Mediterranean has to offer and the benefits to people and planet when we buy from small sustainable producers.