Fire, as a land management tool, can contribute to improving land sustainability, opening doors to new opportunities for livestock farmers and preventing forest fires, as another element of silvopastoral systems, one of the most effective 10 tools for climate change mitigation.
Within the framework of the LIFE LiveAdapt project -solutions for the adaptation of extensive livestock farming to climate change-, Entretantos Foundation, LiveAdapt project partner, organised the workshop “Territory, Landscape and Fire” last 1st of December, in which different speakers presented data, experiences and resources that justify the role of extensive livestock farming in mitigating the effects of climate change, highlighting the role of fire as a tool for management, regeneration and fire prevention in rural areas.
Innogestiona participated in this workshop as a partner of the LiveAdapt project and as a stakeholder involved in climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions. Here are some of the highlights of the session:
Silvopastoral systems: climate change mitigation and adaptation solution.
During the session, the DrawDown project was highlighted as a science-based reference addressing solutions to reverse the effects of climate change, developing how silvopastoral systems “can store significant amounts of carbon in both soils and tree biomass, while maintaining or increasing productivity and providing a range of additional benefits. Traditional silvopastoral systems, such as the dehesa in Spain and wood pastures in Scotland, have existed for centuries. More recently, research efforts have demonstrated the great suitability of this system for Latin American rangelands, and several organisations and governments have been working to promote its adoption.” Source: technical report on Silvopastoralism, Drawdown, 2021 at https://drawdown.org/solutions/silvopasture/technical-summary.
In line with this approach, extensive livestock farming, the silvopastoral system par excellence, was highlighted as an underutilised resource, not only for its climate benefits, but also as an opportunity to promote greener, more sustainable and healthier food production models, which could lead to interesting marketing and awareness-raising actions.
The role of livestock in the prevention of forest fires was one of the central points of the session, not only for the maintenance of forests, but also when designing new strategies with firebreaks that, in any case, must be accompanied by the presence of herds for their maintenance. In any case, it is a question of ensuring synergies between extensive livestock farming and forest management.
Not all fire is bad!
Fire has been a traditional tool in the management of forests, associated with extensive livestock farming practices and which in many cases has criminalised livestock farmers. During the session, emphasis was placed on the need to understand fire as a useful element, always under the supervision of professionals, through prescribed burning, which favours livestock farming practices and avoids future fires, in a scenario in which more extreme phenomena and fires that are much more difficult to control are also predicted.
Holistic management and ecosystem services
In view of this situation, planning has been presented as an urgent need, with references such as the Mosaic project or the compensation received by shepherds for their services in forest maintenance and fire prevention. There are cases such as in the Canary Islands, where they receive around 100 euros per hectare, and others such as Colorado (USA) where the figure is multiplied by 10. In any case, during the session, these phenomena were analysed in relation to depopulation, generational change in agriculture and livestock farming and the need to increase training and sustainable practices such as holistic management, which, as well as guaranteeing the future of the activity, open the door to new opportunities for the economy, society and the environment.
Soils as carbon sinks
By focusing on the fertility and health of soils, we favour carbon sequestration. In this sense, proper herd management, and its direct effect on biodiversity in the landscape, contributes directly to the introduction of carbon into the soil. To this end, biomimetic practices are presented, inspired by the movements of large herds of herbivores, which in turn allow us to produce healthy and profitable food from a triple economic, social and environmental dimension. https://drawdown.org/solutions/silvopasture