By Engin Yilmaz (Yolda Initiative), Roads Less Travelled

Mobile pastoralism is a major traditional cultural practice in the Mediterranean and a unique example of the constant interaction between humans and nature. Being entirely different in essence to intensive livestock production systems, this practice offers the most sustainable way to make the most of the Mediterranean’s rangelands. 

Local communities throughout the Mediterranean basin still engage in many traditional cultural practices, which together with mobile pastoralism contribute to the ecological integrity and diversity of Mediterranean landscapes.

Prepared in collaboration with pilot site partners, Mobile Pastoralism in Mediterranean Landscapes briefly outlines the state of mobile pastoralism in the island landscapes of Lemnos Island, Greece and Menorca Island, Spain, the mountainous landscapes of the High Atlas, Morocco and El Shouf Mountain, Lebanon, and the lowland agro-silvo-pastoral landscapes of Dehesas, Spain, and Montados, Portugal. The report also describes actions by pilot site partners to support conservation of this practice.

Co-creating Knowledge for Action with Transhumant Herders in Spain describes a study to document present-day transhumant pastoralists’ traditional knowledge in use and ethnographic accounts of the current reality of transhumance in practice, grounded in the lived experiences and voices of transhumant herders in Spain. Written by María E. Fernández-Giménez of Colorado State University, the report includes transhumant knowledge in use (case studies of transhumance in Jaen and the central Pyrenees), benefits, costs and challenges of contemporary transhumance, abandonment and revitalisation of transhumance in the western Aragonese Pyrenees, and a preliminary economic analysis of transhumance. The findings, while showing that transhumance remains a relevant and profitable practice in Spain, also reveals that the practice faces significant challenges to long-term continuity.

Yolda Initiative is a leading partner of Roads Less Travelled a new collaborative and global programme of work which supports and helps mobile pastoralist communities maintain their lifestyles and continue moving freely through the landscape.

Eating an Organic Mediterranean Diet Helps Fight Disease

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.

Meet #MedFoodHero Ambassador: Renato Álvarez

Renato Álvarez was born into a “neo-rural” family who were trailblazers of organic farming in Andalusia. They were also members of the first social movements and associations dedicated to the production and organic food. Since he was little he was involved in agriculture until he decided to study Environmental Sciences at the Pablo de Olavide University (Seville).

Meet #MedFoodHero Ambassador: Fábio Bernadino

Fábio Bernardino is a Chef, the CEO of Travel & Flavours, a teacher, gastronomic consultant, trainer and event organizer; a young Chef whose excellence opened the doors to major Portuguese hotels and restaurants, like the Pestana Hotéis & Resorts group or the Heritage Lisboa Hotels, where he left his mark of professionalism and rigour. With a great passion for cooking, and especially for pastry, he started his career at the age of 14, when he attended the Professional Cooking and Pastry Course of the Lisbon Hotel and Tourism School.

Meet #MedFoodHero Ambassador: Alfredo Sendim

Alfredo Cunhal Sendim was born in Porto and spent his childhood between Lisbon (the city), Montemor-o-Novo (the countryside) and Ferragudo (the sea). Studied veterinary and zoo technical. In 1990 he moved to the Monte of Herdade do Freixo do Meio, a territory where, step by step, he has been developing a structural project in the agricultural and social field.

Meet #MedFoodHeroes Ambassador: Sahar Elhallak

Nine years ago, Sahar left her home in California and landed in Morocco in a quest to find herself. While she started a new life in Marrakech, she found some challenges to find restaurants that catered to vegetarians like herself. Since she always enjoyed hosting dinner parties and food-related fundraising events, she started cooking for friends which grew into welcoming people into her beautifully restored hundred-year-old house, for unique culinary experiences.

Meet #MedFoodHeroes Ambassador: Najat Kaanache

Born to Moroccan parents in a small town near San Sebastian in Spain, Najat Kaanache has been cooking at home since childhood. Now based between the US, Mexico and Morocco. She now creates magic in the kitchen as the owner and chef of the beautiful restaurant Nur in the ancient medina of Fez, named World’s Best Moroccan Restaurant in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She also opened CÚS (a Moroccan bistro in the heart of Mexico City) and Nacho Mama (a funky Mexican cantina in the medina of Fez).

Meet #MedFoodHeroes Ambassador: Driss Mellal

Driss Mellal was born in a small town in the south of Morocco, near the beautiful Dades valley. His love for cooking started at the age of 20, when he was in art school in southern France. He missed Moroccan food and flavours and so started cooking and experimenting himself. After graduating from art school, he didn’t work in the arts as planned, but instead went to culinary school. “I finally got to combine my art background with new cooking skills, and it became the start of a new life for me,” Driss says.

Sheep to Combat Climate Change

Asociación Trashumancia y Naturaleza collaborated with the city council of Madrid to organise the annual Fiesta de la Trashumancia Madrid 2019 (Transhumance Festival)—which saw 1800 sheep and 200 goats pass through the centre of Spain’s capital city. The event, now in its 26th year, was successful in creating awareness on the importance of maintaining this ancestral practice of which Spain is a global example and that is a very valuable tool in the fight against climate change and rural depopulation, among other benefits.