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Husbandry systems and sustainable social/environmental quality in less favoured areas

Contract nr: FAIR-CT95-0481
Project nr: 481
Project type: SC
Starting date: 01/03/1996
Duration: 48 months
Total cost: 1,964,750 EUR
EC Contribution: 1,270,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Veronica SABBAG
Research topic: Optimisation of methods, systems and primary production chains
Acronym: Equlfa

This project aims to adjust primary production systems in less favoured areas, so that they preserve landscape environments, become sustainable in terms of socio-economics and aid development of rural communities. The research will be multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, concentrating on vegetation biology, animal science and socio-economics. The major management tool which this project will address is the grazing ruminant. There is a lack of scientific and technical knowledge on which to base grazing management strategies where the primary aim is preservation or recreation of landscape environments.

The overall objective is to investigate methods preserving landscape environments in the less favoured areas (lfas) through modifications to grazing animal production systems.
There are four specific objectives:
1) to define ecological management practices and indicators for the target areas;
2) to integrate husbandry practices with sustainable landscape management;
3) to assess the effects of changes in animal production systems on regional development, socio-economics and use of the landscape for amenity purposes;
4) to assess the potential of marketing both the environmental quality of the landscape and the quality of its animal products.

Numerous tasks are described for the purposes of quantifying the interactions between livestock farming systems and landscape preservation.
Throughout the project there is involvement of the groups which ultimately decide on what will be done, namely the farmers, the local public and the policy makers. The benefits will be in the provision of appropriate technical and economic knowledge to the farmers, who must manage the landscape, and to policy makers who may have to devise subsidy support and other schemes for both the preservation of the landscape and the maintenance of rural communities.

Current situation/results:
The research has established that there is considerable variation in the views of the public, policy-makers and farmers and members of local communities, in their objectives for management of the countryside. There is a poor perception of the ability of local people to influence decisions made by government and by the European Union. Through animal systems, especially grazing, farmers have very strong tools to manage the countryside but the use of these tools differs considerably, according to the local situation. In each of the five countries studied, and in each of the study regions, the problem noted by sections of the community and the use of grazing animals differed in how best to tackle the problem. Part of the research highlighted the direct influence of the views and interests of the farmer in deciding whether a particular problem or target aim could be solved by grazing. Grazing animals could not be used as abstract tools, but required implementation within an animal production system in which the views and aspirations of the farmer were critical. Nevertheless, whether the problem is woody scrub invasion in Germany, Italy or France or over-exploitation of the grazing/browsing resource in Greece, Scotland or Italy, there were technical answers to particular landscape issues.
Economic and social viability of animal production systems were highly relevant with all study regions continuing to exhibit significant change and pressures for further change. Complementary activity to farming was highly locally dependent and could not offer a simple solution to reduced financial viability. The project investigated ways of exploiting the special characteristics of the production system, of the landscape and of the concept of a local product of known source. Using a common set of questions, consumers of meat in different countries all tended to view product quality characteristics as being associated with the production system, rather than location. There were striking differences between countries in how different characteristics were valued and how much more consumers were willing to pay.
The project also considered whether the indirect impact of the system on the landscape could be valorised in some way. This `market' was evaluated in a same way as for the conventional market for meat, looking at producers of the landscape (farmers), intermediate traders (tourism providers) and consumers (visitors and tourists). Mechanisms to `pay' the producers of the landscape are being investigated.
A preliminary conclusion of the project is that local implementation of policy tailored to meet local needs is likely to be most technically successful and most likely to meet the needs of the public. Changes in the attitudes of consumers will be required for certain areas of Europe before realistic price premiums can be obtained for special products or local produce of known origin. Likewise, there will be a likely need for different approaches to funding appropriate farming systems to achieve a range of public good aims, including maintaining and enhancing landscapes.



SAC - Scottish Agricultural College
UK-KA6 5HW Ayr
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  • Valerio ABBADESSA
    Via Anguillarese 301
    I-00060 Santa Maria di Galeria (Roma)
    Tel.: +39 06 30 48 32 39
    Fax: +39 06 30 48 47 68

  • Oliviero OLIVIERI
    Università degli studi di Perugia
    Via San Costanzo 4
    I-06126 Perugia
    Tel.: +39 07 55 85 45 09
    Fax: +39 07 53 66 32

  • Anastasios NASTIS
    Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki
    P.O. Box 236
    GR-540 06 Thessaloniki
    Tel.: +30 31 99 89 31
    Fax: +30 31 99 88 86
    E-mail: From:

  • Elisabeth LECRIVAIN
    Domaine Saint Paul
    Site Agroparc
    F-84914 Avignon
    Tel.: +33 4 90 31 62 40
    Fax: +33 4 90 31 62 49

  • Ezzat TAWFIK
    Universität Kassel
    Steinstr. 19
    D-37213 Witzenhausen
    Tel.: +49 5542 98 12 49
    Fax: +49 5542 98 13 09
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