The dynamics of the transhumant sheep and goat farming system in Greece. Influences on biodiversity

The project proposes, for the first time, an integrated approach to the transhumant sheep and goat farming system in Greece, in respect to herd management (animal breed productivity, flock management), socioeconomic impact (socioeconomic profile of breeders, technical and economic analysis, estimation of technical efficiency), mountainous and marginal rangeland management and milk and dairy products quality. The aforementioned dimensions formulate an interdisciplinary framework to evaluate and improve the system’s structure and functionality, which would be applicable to other animal breeding systems. Furthermore, an integrated approach of extensive animal breeding systems is necessary in order to inform rural development and environmental policies, particularly for marginal and less-favored areas. This becomes of major importance, given increasing public awareness towards rural development, environmental protection and climate change. This integrated approach will be carried out through the collaboration of scientists of various disciplines, in order to examine transhumant systems in terms of: - Productivity and herd management (production, breeds, adaptivity)- Social and economic role (socioeconomic profile of farms, technical and economicanalysis, efficiency, interactions with society)- Rangeland management and development, protection of flora and fauna- Milk and dairy product quality (public health) The main objectives of the proposed project are:- Understanding the dynamics of the system by creating a database of all transhumant farms in Greece and, as a second step, providing a detailed examination of a representative sample (genetic and zootechnical features of animals)- Highlighting the functional parameters of the system (herd management) and the features that determine its rationale in the country- Revealing linkages between the transhumant seep-goat sector and the development of rural areas by examining its multifunctional characteristics (contribution to cultural heritage and agricultural landscapes, traditional edible products)- Detecting the key advantages and opportunities linked to the transhumant system within the context of modern alternative livestock breeding systems, in respect to environmental protection and the development of less-favored and marginal rural areas (reversing depopulation, improvement of incomes and employment)- Analyzing the social and economic profile of transhumant farms and farmers with respect to particular problems they confront - Improving knowledge concerning the management of rangelands as well as the possibilities for their development- Examining the quality of milk and dairy products, as well as their marketing perspectives 

Participating Faculty and Staff: