Why Transhumance Matters

Why Transhumance Matters
March 17, 2017 Christina Mullin

Transhumance is a type of nomadism, where shepherds move their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures.

Transhumance is good for the environment, nature, and the planet.

44 Millions of years ago, animals completed the same migratory routes, covering these journeys in search of better grazing land and climate.

Conservationists see those meadows as long established natural travel routes that are greenway corridors that link up ecosystems.

Scientists and conservationists defend its contribution to nature conservation and argue that mountain and lowland ecosystems survive thanks to it. As livestock move from one area to another, they reduce pressure on the land, as excessive grazing can lead to species extinction and soil erosion. At the same time, grazing along the droveways helps to keep the trails clean, stop forest fires and contribute to tree regeneration.

Transhumance also protects biodiversity.

The livestock carry seeds in their stomachs and also in their hooves, which are transported for hundreds of miles, enabling species to spread.

Scientists have also studied the close relationship between transhumance and the abundance of animal species such as vultures, cranes and reptiles.

Transhumance experienced a period of decline, which was having a negative impact on genetic diversity, endangering flora and fauna, and the reduced plant seed movement affected flower diversity, which had a knock-on effect on insects.

However, thanks to the commitment of a number of dedicated players as well as support from people in high places, transhumance is making a comeback. A key player in the revival is Anfosc, an Italian organization devoted to quality cheeses made from the milk of animals that live outdoors in ancient pastures rich with hundreds of different grasses, wild flowers and herbs instead of being shut up in stables and pumped with artificial food.

“Patrimoine” comes to mind, a term used to describe a range of centuries-old traditions, like transhumance, that are part and parcel of a whole way of life that benefits nature.

To learn more (and where you could accompany sheep or cattle) www.transhumance.org

I saw the film Winter Nomad (Hiver Nomad) a few years ago and it was wonderful.

Transhumance videos shot in France featuring Sheep, Cows and Goats.

Mini documentary in French with beautiful footage, explains Transhumance.