The role of pastoralism in Germany

Evelyn Mathias, Günther Czerkus and Andreas Schenk

This study investigates the situation of pastoralism in Germany. It gives an overview of the data sources on livestock and pastoralism in Germany, the pastoralist systems and the definitions of pastoralism used. Germany has three main types of pastoralism: sheep transhumance (Wanderschäferei, the long-distance movement of mobile shepherds and their flocks between winter and summer pastures), location-bound herding (standortgebundene Hütehaltung, where pastoralists graze their sheep and goats in a more or less wide radius around the homestead), and mountain farming (Almwirtschaft, where cattle, plus some sheep, goats and horses, stay with their herder on mountain pastures during the summer months, returning to the valleys in the autumn).

The definitions of the various forms of pastoralism vary from state to state within Germany. There are an estimated 1,000 full-time shepherds in Germany, most of whom are mobile. Smaller enterprises with fewer sheep are less likely to be mobile and more likely to run part-time or hobby operations, or as part of a mixed farm. The 1,000 large, mobile operations graze perhaps 3.4% of Germany’s permanent grasslands.

Livestock products include meat, milk, cheese and wool. These are worth a total of EUR 83.9 million per year for the 1,000 large operations. Environmental services include enhanced biodiversity through seed and insect dispersal, pasture fertilization by the animals’ manure, a dense grass cover, and moderate soil compaction compared to the use of machinery. Taken together, these environmental services are worth between EUR 207 and 347 million – more than the income derived from the sale of products. Other benefits include landscape maintenance for tourism and recreation, improved groundwater quality, and control of erosion, flood and wildfires. It is hard to put an economic value on these benefits.

Mobile herding is declining because of low profitability, a growing shortage of suitable grazing land, attacks by wolves, and excessive bureaucracy. Even though the number of pastoralists in Germany is small, they make a disproportionate contribution to Germany’s economy and environment. More reliable data focusing on pastoralism is needed to obtain a better picture of the status of pastoralism and to provide a basis for efforts to support it.

  • Title: The role of pastoralism in Germany
  • Author: Evelyn Mathias, Günther Czerkus and Andreas Schenk / League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development / 2022
  • Description: Paper
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  • Pages: 46

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    Accounting for pastoralism in Mozambique

    Agropastoralism is the main form of livestock production in Mozambique. It is concentrated in the drier, central and southern provinces, away from tsetse-infested areas. While chickens and goats are more numerous, cattle are the most important type of livestock. They are a source of income and draught power, a store of wealth and important culturally. Livestock are a vital source of income for large numbers of farmers, especially in the south of the country.

    Agropastoralism and food security could be improved through better veterinary services, improved feeding and watering in the dry season, and breeding based on local breeds. Agropastoralism is not officially recognized as a form of management, and it does not figure prominently in government policies. Better, more frequent and more detailed data will be needed if Mozambique is to take advantage of the opportunities presented by livestock for its agricultural development.

    Also available in Portuguese.

  • Title: Accounting for pastoralism in Mozambique
  • Author: Jacob Wanyama, LIFE Network Africa; and Romuald Rutazihana, Rutazihana Consulting, Lda / League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development / 2022
  • Description: Information brief
  • Format: Zip
  • Pages: 6

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    Accounting for pastoralists in Spain

    Spain has a very diverse range of ecosystems that have been created and transformed over centuries by pastoralism. Some 88% of the country’s land area can be used as pastures at some time of the year. Two main pastoral strategies have evolved: transhumance, and agrosilvopastoralism.

    • Transhumance involves moving animals between winter pastures (usually in the plains) to summer pastures (often in the mountains).
    • Agrosilvopastoralism involves grazing animals on pasture and crop residues, and in forests and tree plantations. The dehesa oak parklands are an example.

    No data exist on the number of pastoralists in Spain, the lands they use or the numbers of animals they keep. Pastoralism is in general decline, under pressure from changing economics and unfavourable policies. But awareness of its value for the environment, landscape management and tourism is rising.

  • Title: Accounting for pastoralists in Spain
  • Author: Francesca Pasetti, Concejo de la Mesta; Rubén Serrano and Pablo Manzano, Basque Centre for Climate Change; Pedro Herrera, Fundación Entretantos – Spanish Platform for Extensive Livestock Systems and Pastoralism / League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development / 2022
  • Description: Information brief
  • Format: Pdf
  • Pages: 6

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