«With every € 0,002 invested in land management, € 1 is saved in extinguishing forest fires«. With this phrase Marc Castellnou (GRAF) opened the Days of Grazed Territories held in Girona last September.
Current forest fires and the role of grazing
Forest fires are on the rise, as we can see in the Amazons, California, Portugal ... Driven largely by climate change, in the Mediterranean they are also due to the abandonment and scrubbing of land. It is a common belief that forest fires can be extinguished as long as sufficient extinguishing media are applied, but this is not always the case. Today's gigantic fires contain so much energy that no extinguishing medium can control them.
Therefore, you have to stop spending more on extinction. Instead, it is essential invest in prevention to create resilient landscapes through sustainable territorial management. A key tool is grazing: the cattle eat the vegetation that if not serves as fuel for the fire. In this way, open and fire resistant landscapes are maintained, mitigating climate change and providing other socio-environmental benefits such as the conservation of biodiversity and the production of quality food.
Initiatives to support pastoralism
However, there are many challenges for pastoralism, leading to its progressive disappearance: low economic viability and generational renewal, and excessive bureaucracy. Fortunately, innovative initiatives are emerging: supporting herds grazing on firewalls (Foc Ramats); platforms for direct sales (DeYerba y Quered); access to land and generational replacement (Test spaces); valorization of transhumance (Transhumance and Nature Association) and livestock (Cattlemen in Network y Ramaderes de Catalunya); and exchange of knowledge and experiences (grazing schools, FireShepherds, AlberaPastur y Open2Preserve).
Conclusion: how can we support pastoralism?
Instead of choosing cheap - but unsustainable - products from intensive livestock farming, it is better to opt for extensive livestock products. Every time we buy a local product, produced sustainably and by the rural population, we create a smaller ecological footprint and help conserve both sustainable food systems and landscapes resilient to fire and climate change.
Author: Isabeau Ottolini / email@example.com