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Call for potential collaborations

Seeing how fieldwork is progressing well across the reference regions, we -The James Hutton Institute- have been thinking about emerging themes that could potentially prove to be a basis for the development of collaborations among the partners.

The most common issue that has surfaced during our work in Scotland revolves around the impact of predators on livestock and trade-offs between conservation priorities and agricultural food production. We have also observed a range of issues regarding the effect of different types of land tenure on production.

It would be interesting to see if other partners have also identified similar patterns and think about working together on such side topics.


Just to add a little illustration of what we’re discussing:

Re. Question 32: Could you potentially produce more food in your farm? If yes, what is constraining you from doing it?

When we ask farmers this question we are often told about trade-offs in terms of other environmental goals:

Wildlife and habitat conservation – some agricultural produce is lost to predators, for example livestock is lost to eagles http://bit.ly/2vpC9AX wild deer trample crops and areas of potentially productive agricultural land are set aside as natural habitats or rewilded. Many farmers are being incentivized to conserve particular species through payments and penalties. Others may simply choose a conservation value over maximising production. In addition afforestation and reforestation schemes to combat climate change may use farmland that could otherwise produce food.

We are wondering if other teams are also finding interesting ‘conservation’ trade-offs and want to share publication ideas?

Sorry for the delay in replaying. Hopeful this can be useful and interesting for potential collaborations.

Farmers living in mountainous areas are more exposed to crop losses and damages caused by wild animals such as wild boar, deer, porcupines; the presence of wolves is a problem that particularly affects cattle breeders (meat was not one of our staple food/food items, but we interviewed some farmers that are breeders too). 

Example of two interviewed farmers in Lucca (Valley of Garfagnana).

1) << What I need is a fence to protect me from the animals. I asked for the possibility of some monetary contributions to install protection against deer and wolves, but I suppose I have to do by myself, exactly as I've already done against wild boars. They would give me an amount of money able to cover just a little part of the necessary job, in addition they want you to respect their rigid constraints: a certain height for the fence (not enough for me to defend my crops from wild animals), a certain perimeter and so on. I lost more or less 100 olive trees because of roe deer. Until 1997 roe deer were not such a relevant problem: they became relevant when environmentalists decided to repopulate the area. I applied for damages but they told me they would pay € 0.80 cents per plant. Each olive tree costs me € 5/6. I resumed the contract and I ripped it >>

2) << I joint an event organized by Coldiretti dealing with the invasion of wild boars, so much increased in the last 7/8 years. It was a street protest and demonstration against our State and the hunter's lobby. My last spelt (or dinkel wheat) harvest yielded only 1/3 of the expected, due to the damage caused by wild boars >>.  When we ask the farmer if she could potentially more food, she answered that she would be undoubtedly able but she also feels vulnerable about crop losses due to wild boars.


• Forest management: the poor forest management (for example for re-naturalization), left almost abandoned, creates a vulnerable environment to hydrogeological risks and makes areas less attractive to neighbouring farmers.

• Conversion from agriculture to energy production; incentives for renewable energy: agriculture is not profitable, so as soon as incentives were introduced for solar panels, there were shifts that reduced the utilized agricultural area.

• Hunting is an obstacle because it clashes, for example, with agro-tourism needs (noise, danger, etc.). On the other hand, hunting is aimed at controlling some species of wild animals, which pose a threat to agriculture. The relationship between the two is controversial. 

An issue emerged during the focus group in Garfagnana: the participants highlighted the pre-eminent role of SF for landscape management. The relevance e of this role is becoming evident as the abandonment of cultivated land is giving way to wild woods. According to the participants, this vegetation does not contribute in an appropriate way to the management of soil and water; it also favours the increase of wild animals considered a growing concern for SF in Garfagnana.

Thank you Lucia,

This is the sort of thing we are looking for and I was not surprised that wild boar is reported. Indeed I suspect that wild boar is a concern in other Reference Regions. I spoke to Spanish colleagues during the Valencia meeting and they were not aware of wildlife constraints in the orange growing territory but I wonder about the other part of their region including Viver where wild animals may be more of a challenge to small farmers?

And not just wild boar. I had a fascinating conversation with Charles about African elephants – hugely destructive for Kenyan farmers with global governance concerning their protection. So if any other partners have gathered farmer stories about how wild species are a constraint on their production of food Irianna, Hilde and I want to hear from you.

Best regards,Dominic


The Greek team completed the collection of 47 questionnaires from Imathia, which is the second Greek Reference Region. The 39 questionnaires concern small farmers of peaches, cherries, wine grapes and cattle breeders for fattening, while 8 questionnaires concern small businesses such as wineries, fruit processing units and butcheries. Just after the Orthodox Easter (i.e in two weeks), we will collect a few more questionnaires, and start with the focus groups. The interviews were conducted by two members of our team and we feel very lucky working in this area.


Naoussa area (in the 2nd Reference Region): blooming peaches and plums, vineyards etc.

Photos: Elpiniki Oikonomopoulou, 26 March 2018