2022 was an important year for the project, as the Conservation (C) Actions were launched. A key development was the kick-off of the livestock protection training activities. From the spring, fence-building courses, technical demonstrations, and site visits took place across the project region to give livestock owners an insight into the opportunities that protection measures can provide. A particular highlight was the shepherding training at the Fachschule Salern, a LIFEstockProtect competence centre in South Tyrol, where youth learned the basics of the trade from experienced shepherdesses and shepherds.
Based on existing networks in Italy and Bavaria, the LIFEstockProtect volunteer workforce was put into place. Volunteers were given the opportunity to work for a short- or long-term period to help farmers and shepherds implement livestock protection measures on their pastures. This promoted the exchange between agricultural workers and citizens from other walks of life, and helped to promote coexistence across the project region.
The partners held various workshops on livestock protection for school classes in Austria. Further education was developed in the form of a public exhibition, the topics and layout of which was finalised this year by Naturmuseum Südtirol and will go on tour to audiences across the project region. The project was also represented at various agricultural fairs and gatherings, as well as LIFE events such as the 30th anniversary celebration in Austria and the LIFEApollo2020 kick-off conference in Poland.
A highlight of the year was the excursions to observe the work of shepherds and livestock guarding dogs in Stelvio National Park. Stakeholders from politicians to farmers observed the Maremmano-Abruzzese dogs, which had been certified for herd protection and picked up from Majella National Park in the spring, in action. Other developments with working dogs this year were the continued certifications of scat-dog teams for detection of large carnivores by project partner AG Naturschutzhunde.
The LIFEstockProtect consortium conducted several regular online meetings this year, but also had the opportunity to meet face to face in June in Tamsweg, Austria. Here, the partners had the opportunity to discuss project events, excursions and exhibitions, as well as a review of the past year’s activities, celebrating successes and examining where there was room for improvement.
Following the adaptations required by the COVID-19 pandemic, online activities were highly important for communication this year. Umweltdachverband and Naturschutzbund Österreich continued their lobbying activities, with some meetings taking place in person across the project region. The Bavarian team conducted several online webinars throughout the year covering various topics, from the use of working dogs to opportunities for financial support in livestock protection. This culminated in a thematic conference on livestock protection for cattle and horses at the end of November. Researchers, organisational representatives, and especially livestock farmers, presented their knowledge and experiences with livestock protection, with a particular focus on Bavaria.
The partnership would like to thank everyone who supported LIFEstockProtect and participated in project events in 2022, and looks forward to progress in 2023.