Main authors: Cecilia De Ita, Lindsay C. Stringer, Luuk Fleskens, Diana Sietz
Contributing authors: Ioannis K. Tsanis, Ioannis N. Daliakopoulos, Ioanna Panagea, Michalakis Christoforou, Giovanni Quaranta, Rosanna Salvia, Sandra Valente, Cristina Ribeiro, Cláudia Fernandes, Oscar González-Pelayo, Jan Jacob Keizer, Alejandro Valdecantos, V. Ramón Vallejo and Susana Bautista
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: De Ita, C. et al. (2017) Report on multi-scale evaluation of CASCADE's management principles and grazing model scenarios with stakeholders and policy makers. CASCADE Project Deliverable 8.3 69 pp


Eleven stakeholders attended this workshop (Figure 1), including representatives from the farmers’/shepherds’ union, local land users and producers, and land managers (i.e. forest managers and agronomists).

D8.3 fig13

Available policies regarding agro-environmental incentives in the Castelsaraceno territory were presented by one of the stakeholders. This was followed by presentation of CASCADE’s relevant principles by the research team.

In Castelsaraceno, land abandonment was the main SLM issue, as the risk of forest fire was very marginal. Unlike other areas in the Mediterranean, it is under-grazing that has had negative impacts as a consequence of land abandonment as it can increase fire risk. The principles presented to the stakeholders as a basis for discussions therefore covered land abandonment (principles 1 to 4), forest fire (3), and grazing (4, 5).

For descriptions of the principles discussed here, see »Guidelines for land managers: the land abandonment context_EN, »Guidelines for land managers: the overgrazing context_EN and »Guidelines for land managers: the forest fire context.

Land abandonment

Stakeholders in Italy discussed in detail the challenges and opportunities in stopping land abandonment. They saw it very much as a holistic issue, and discussed the challenges and opportunities for addressing rural out-migration and low productivity.

In Italy, the farmers’/shepherds’ union representative agreed with the principles proposed, as he had witnessed the environmental pressure that the land has been facing in the last few decades, and thus the need to prevent future deterioration and safeguard local resources. However, stakeholders had diverse views about the biggest challenges in the region: while the local veterinary officer signalled the lack of, or poor infrastructure, the environmental association representative and the local public administrator recognised depopulation as an important social trend due to the perceived benefits and status of living in urban areas as the biggest challenge. The absence of collective action was also seen as a key theme in the use of SLM and in implementing the principles (see Table 1). Within the discussion the stakeholders differentiated very little and tended to treat the principles as a set without specifying which they were referring to.

Indeed, the representative from the environmental association identified the region of Basilicata’s biggest problem as the progressive depopulation of the territory and the absence of collective action. As there are relatively few people spread out across large areas, they considered that the prevailing individualist mind-set needs to be replaced by a greater confidence in the power of building networks, not just agricultural networks but also social networks. He concluded his intervention by describing a very positive model of community collective action he recently saw in Japan in the hope it could be adopted in the region.

Table 1. Main comments and proposals regarding land abandonment principles (treated as a set).

Land abandonment Land users Agro-technicians Government representatives
Causes • Low profitability of land and produce
• Fragmentation of farms
• Unwillingness of land owners to sell land to farmers
• Lack of or deficient infrastructure  • Social trends of migration towards urban concentration, as rurality has had negative connotations
• Low profitability of produce
• Competition with cheaper imports subjected to lower regulations and production costs
• Lack of cooperation among producers
Opportunities for decreasing land abandonment • Regulate public land to support agricultural and forestry use
• Set up farmers' associations
• Strengthen local food networks
• Regulations for in-farm slaughtering
• Provide retirement incentives to older farmers so that the sector can see greater generational change
• Mountain farming activities should be linked to niche tourism markets
• Organise collective actions, set-up associations
• Regional for in-farm slaughtering.
• Designated zones for grazing
• Maintaining high quality of produce
• Certification of protected designation of origin for the territory and its products
• Cater to niche markets
• The branding of this geographic area as synonymous with authenticity, quality and tradition
• Development of a “mountain product” label

The local government representative agreed with the general discussion and all the principles, and considered that even small infrastructure investments could reboot rural economies and help incentivise people to return to the community.


During the discussions, the stakeholders remembered past measures in Castelsaraceno and agreed with the land management principles identified for pastures. However, only principles 4 and 5 of the overgrazing context were considered applicable to Castelsaraceno’s current conditions. Principle 4 “Animal types and herd composition influence plant diversity and health. Overgrazing by uniform livestock species can lead to the spread of invasive/unpalatable species” encourages land users to plan resting periods for pastures, selectively remove unwanted species and to diversify animal types and Increase health and productivity.

The agronomist stakeholder also mentioned measures to be added: that rotation timetables and grazing loads should be adapted to specific land characteristics; that pasture biomass ought to be considered when calculating grazing loads; and that introducing local indigenous breeds alongside the good practices in place was needed. Equally it was mentioned that to limit grazing during the dry season, careful planning of grazing schedules needed to be in place in order to allow pastures to rest. This is a past practice and was also compatible with principle 5 “Remove particularly invasive shrub either mechanically or with controlled fires to stop the spread of pastures towards woodland”. These practices were considered successful at preventing invasive flora when there were a significant number of livestock grazing. It was also mentioned that management plans can be created (at a local town council or regional level) to organise the removal of undesirable flora species.

Regarding mixed grazing, the local veterinarian mentioned that crop rotation, crop selection and the removal of invasive plants should be better incentivised in order to be applied. He mentioned a case in which it was detrimental not to use principle 4 (- in the Park of Pollino in 2004 there was an outbreak of anthrax in cattle spread by insect bites and contact between the cattle when all herding around drinking troughs), for which he proposed more drinking troughs in order to avoid the spread of the problem.

Note: For full references to papers quoted in this article see

» References

Go To Top