Mountain agriculture plays a central role in ensuring Alpine traditional landscape, regional breeds and species and preserving local culture, heritage and traditional techniques. The characteristics of Alpine food products & their market position call for higher quality that can have a considerable impact in reducing GHG emissions of agriculture.
Organic agriculture is known to exert less direct environmental impact on soils than traditional agriculture. Moreover, the use of heavy and energy-intensive methods that is often found in intensive farming and livestock farming is relatively scarce in Alpine regions also due to the limited attractiveness of the land for large productions. Against this background, farming in the Alps looks like a suitable place for adopting and testing organic and other low impact approaches to smaller food productions. This would require however a clear productive choice to be ideally supported by regional and national policy makers in order to achieve measurable targets.
Development of a set of scenarios for organic/climate-friendly farming in the Alps.
Gap analysis and business/strategic planning for filling in the gaps
Identification of innovative management techniques being able to support the transition to a higher share of organic farming in the Alps at a reasonable cost (e.g., extensive agriculture, CO₂ storage of pastures and moorlands through grazing management plans, dual purpose breeds introduced, reduced use of fertilisers, low-taxation areas or production systems, incentivisation of small mechanization, etc.)
Identification of possible solutions for the reduction of the costs of transition to organic farming
Inventory of existing initiatives at different territorial levels supporting a transition from traditional to organic farming in the Alpine regions
Identification of the multiple benefits of organic farming also through the Ecosystem Services (ESS) approach (including the social positive spillover effects e.g., in terms of contrasting out-migration, etc.)
Identification of the “policy gap” (i.e. existing legal or institutional barriers to a shift to organic/climate friendly farming) for different territorial units
First: Assessment of benefits and costs in alternative modes of farming (organic & traditional) in terms of e.g., yields and productivity, costs, demand for land, demand for crops and farming products and identification of situations where the transition can be sustainable (e.g., local level/alongside industrial production)
Elaboration of proposals of policy actions for increasing the share of organic farming in the Alpine regions up to 50%
Starting dialogue with relevant policy makers and stakeholders in the farming sector particularly regions, associations, firms aimed at introducing incentives/removing barriers to a wider use of organic farming in the Alps
The indicator/target could either refer to land use or to production (quantity or revenues or share of regional agricultural products, etc.)
Introduction/Implementation of or increase in (depending on different countries) voluntary initiatives for organic farming (schemes) by firms and administrations (e.g., “organic/climate-friendly” procurement by involved administrations and private entrepreneurs in the hospitality sector not necessarily limited to the stricter mountain regions; etc.)
Mountain agriculture plays a central role in ensuring Alpine traditional landscape, regional breeds and species and preserving local culture, heritage and traditional techniques. However, mountain agriculture is also highly environmentally sensitive and therefore especially vulnerable to climate change. This characteristic and the market position of Alpine food products as high quality and “niche” products pave the way for additional climate-change efforts of mountain farmers. Besides reducing greenhouse-gas emission of mountain agriculture, these efforts may also help increase value-added and income in the agricultural sector in the Alps.
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