Shepherds of the 21st century: The Erasmus + project, FireShepherds, combines silvopastoralism and wildfire management

The Pau Costa Foundation coordinates an Erasmus + project that combines silvopastoralism with wildfire management. FireShepherds has as a main focus to improve the professionalization of grazing through the acquisition of certain skills and competencies in relation to the management of herds in a context of risk of wildfires and landscape changes.

To achieve this goal, we work mainly from two main objectives: On the one hand, it promotes the creation of specific professional training contents for shepherd schools on silvopastoralism and fire management. On the other hand, the project encourages the exchange of experiences among project partners in relation with silvopastoralism, fire and landscape management.

The birth of the project is motivated by the alarming decrease in the practice of silvopastoralism, adding to it, the lack of knowledge between silvopastoralism and the prevention of wildfires. Finally, due to the constant obstacles which shepherds meet at all levels (low profitability, access to land, difficult marketing of products, etc.).

As a result of these challenges, FireShepherds expects to design a series of training sessions that improves the skills and the abilities of shepherds in relation to silvopastoralism and wildfires, as well as creating a network of contacts at an international level through real experiences. In fact, over the three years that the project lasts, five exchanges and three important events are expected to be able to disseminate results that will be developed during the project. It is a project, involving 16 partners from Spain, Portugal, France and Germany, and we emphasize that 5 are shepherds schools.

The first and last objective of this ambitious European project is to contribute to the prevention of wildfires, to increase the quality of products and to sustain economically the work of shepherds. In short, to create 21st century shepherds who are able to change the philosophy of silvopastoralism and this change creates new methods to prevent wildfires. In addition, silvopastoralism is an asset for public administrations and this could contribute to offer economic stability to the shepherds' profession.

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