Subject: 23 Oct Webinar: Sustainable Agriculture, building partnership with farmers

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23rd October 2017, 15:00 (CET)

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Protected Areas for Sustainable Agriculture: building partnerships with farmers

In Europe, agriculture and cattle breeding are fundamental for many Protected Areas. Indeed, the protection of some specific landscapes, habitats and species depends on farming activities. Agriculture builds up the identity of local communities with tastes and long-lasting traditions, promoting cultural heritage and social cohesion. In some areas, farming activities are essential for the local economy, and are interconnected with tourism and other economic sectors.

Nevertheless, without environment-friendly practices, agriculture and cattle breeding can have huge negative impacts, dramatically contributing to biodiversity loss, impoverishment of soils and erosion, depletion and contamination of water and air pollution – affecting nature and human well-being. Hence, to build alliances and mutual understanding with farmers is crucial for many Protected Areas managers.

Diversity & partnerships: working together towards a green economy
The situation of agriculture in Europe is highly variable, and differences can be seen in:

Scale: from the small subsistence agriculture (e.g. some parks in Eastern Europe) to big agroindustry and extensive agriculture (e.g. parks in the Netherlands or Germany);
Location: farming in remote areas (e.g. in the Alps) or near big cities (e.g. within periurban parks);
Type of production: simple products for local markets or very high-profit productions (e.g. parks in the Champagne’s area);
Type of approach: the traditional local farmers vs new “hobby” farmers

This means, for Protected Area managers who are looking for local solutions, that their stakeholders might have diverse attitudes, approaches, dimension, and needs. There is no one solution to fit all situations.

To build effective dialogue and partnerships profitable for everyone, protected areas need to be aware of this diversity.

In this Webinar, we will explore two examples of strong collaborations between Protected Area authorities and farmers, involving also other actors such as public bodies, universities and NGOs. We will see how these partnerships provide benefits both for nature conservation and for the local economy, and can be a practical way to promote green economy in rural territories.

The webinar will be introduced by Stefania Petrosillo, Policy Officer of the EUROPARC Federation. Stefania represents EUROPARC in debates and events held in Brussels regarding Agriculture (as well as other topics related to Protected Areas) and she is supporting the internal EUROPARC Commission on Protected Areas and Agriculture.
Case study 1

Promoting open spaces with farmers in a forest park as means to increase biodiversity

by Seán Cahill and Joan Vilamú, Serra de Collserola Nature Park, Catalonia

The loss of a mosaic landscape causes loss of biodiversity. Due to the expansion of forest, mainly because of the abandonment of farming activities, some species that depend on open spaces have declined. To counterbalance this situation, the Park is promoting several actions with a participatory approach with farmers: the recovery of farming activities where these are viable, and the maintenance of open spaces through the use of grazing animals.

Seán Cahill is a Biologist at Collserola Park’s Biological Station. Working on wildlife and biodiversity monitoring in general, with expertise in wildlife conservation and related conflicts in this highly anthropogenic metropolitan protected area subject to multiple periurban pressures. Joan Vilamú is a technical agricultural engineer of the Park, working on the management of topics related to agriculture and livestock in the area.
Case study 2

Food de-mediation and multi-functionality in a periurban park

by Paolo Bolzacchini and Alessandro Cecchini, Slow Food Lombardia

“Feeding Milan. Energies for change” was a 5 years framework research programme that took place in Parco Agricolo Sud Milano, promoted by Slow Food Italia, Politecnico di Milano-INDACO dept. and University of Gastronomic Science
The framework strategy of the project aimed to promote the values of “zero mile food” and new activities – as the earth market – for proximity leisure and local tourism. It also supported existing best practices; and aimed at building new food networks based on the two main concepts: de-mediation (to shorten the agri-food chain) and multi-functionality (to promote economies of scope*  among the farmers (*economies of scope: “efficiencies formed by variety, not volume” as an opposite of economies of scale)

Paolo Bolzacchini is an Agronomist and the Vice President of Slow Food Lombardia, and Alessandro Cecchini is a food engineer working in the Biodiversity area of Slow Food Lombardia.
The webinar will be held in English and last around 1:15 hours. All participants will be able to share their views and have their questions answered during the final discussion.
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