Last month has been, finally, a month full of field visits! After the LIFEstockProtect team met the farmers who are interested to join the Alpine LIFEstockProtect Competence Center Network online, we are now in the process of visiting them on site. The visits so far were full of interesting insights into local conditions and provide the basis for ambitious plans for the future. Besides that, the project also finalised three preparatory sub-actions and published a quantitative survey about the perception of livestock protection.
Visiting competence centres
To really understand what the needs, experiences and expectations of the potential competence centres in South Tyrol, Austria and Bavaria are, it was crucial to visit them on site. Because of that, the project team spent three weeks in June visiting more than 20 farms ranging from the lowlands to high alpine mountain pastures. It was impressive to see how different the circumstances are within and between the three different project countries. The farmers and shepherds were able to show the project team what kind of livestock protection, if any, they have practiced so far and where there is need for improvement. Like that, the livestock protection experts of the project were able to give them tips and discuss the options of trainings that can take place on their farms.
During two days in Austria, the team was accompanied by a reporter of the Ö1 radio channel. He got to see and record, amongst others, a young farmer in Carinthia who is keen to start learning about how to protect his cattle and a shepherd and shepherdess who recently had to deal with depredations. Let’s see how the radio documentary turns out! We will of course keep you updated and soon also publish a more detailed article about the visits.
As a basis for the livestock protection training curricula, the project also just finalised an inventory of available trainings in the project region. In total, 36 courses could be identified of which most are/were held in Italy, followed by Germany and Austria. Interestingly, the participation in the majority of them is subsidised, whereas only about 50% teach theory and practice. In contrast, the planned trainings within LIFEstockProtect will mainly focus on the practical side of livestock protection, accompanied by, depending on the focus of the course, a theoretic introduction and its validation in the field.
Stakeholders as diverse as the project
We reported previously the conduction of a stakeholder analysis across the project region. Now, this sub-action was finalised, whereas the findings offered interesting insights. They suggest that the stakeholder group most directly affected by livestock protection, livestock keepers, is mostly sceptical towards the topic, despite being highly interested. The results also indicate that they are not influential enough to directly change conditions for its implementation (e.g. subsidies). Besides that, authorities and politicians play a major role. Other relevant groups were land use associations, environmental protection, respectively animal rights, associations and scientists and experts. The results of this analysis generate the basis for the following conservation actions of the project on stakeholder involvement and will guide all other project actions as well.
At the moment, the project also investigates the perception of livestock protection through a quantitative questionnaire. If you are a farmer, a tourist, tourism operator or hunter, you can support the investigation by filling out the questionnaire in German or Italian.