Since 2009, FMM is engaged in transhumance – moving sheep from Andalusia and Extremadura to the mountain pastures in the León, Burgos and Palenica provinces is not only a tradition which is thousands of years old or an intelligent use of natural resources, but also bears in it the secret of biodiversity. This way of livestock keeping is extremely endangered und should be revived. Fundación Monte Mediterráneo works to reinforce it so that there will be a positive impact on all natural processes and species – especially endangered ones.
In the transhumance the following occurs: the Mediterranean dehesa recovers since it is not trampled nor cropped to the last blade of grass and is prepared to absorb the first rainfalls of the fall properly. The labor on the dehesa, due to the absence of the sheep, is less and the workers deal better with the high temperatures in summer.
On the mountain pastures in the León, Burgos and Palencia provinces the bush encroachment is reduced producing grazing land – both measure reduce the wildfire risk. The bush encroachment changes landscapes and leads to a reduction of biodiversity which affects most the less adaptable species, like the Brown Bear, the Cantabrian Capericaillie or the Bearded Vulture.
The sheep do their “natural job” eating fresh green grass, fertilizing naturally and creating pasture land. And incidentally, the sheep do not need any concentrated feed which reduces the CO2-footprint as well as the use of water and transportation – consequently, transhumance is an activity which is independent from the international market. Seasonal employment in deprived areas is created and old professions can be rehabilitated and integrated into modern, ecological processes.
Besides the importance of the transhumance for livestock breeding we have the opportunity to appreciate a profession which has molded Spain for centuries accumulating an enormous knowledge and experience concerning nature and livestock breeding and is threatened to disappear. Therefor training and education programs are part of the project.
Extensive pasture farming with sheep and goats essential for the conservation of species and ecosystems in Spain, is at a crossroad which will be decisive for Spain’s nature and natural processes in the future.
OVINNOVA (www.goovinnova.org) is, up to now, the largest project in scope referring to sheep: in 2021 13.800 sheep have been moved – either by truck or walking 34 days and 580 km on the livestock trails – from South to North within the project.
The acquisition and training of new and young shepherds is a central issue in OVINNOVA.