The concept of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) is a different and more complex way than the conventional classification of protected area or landscape. GIAHS are living agricultural systems than involve the human communities wiithin a complex relationship with the territory, with the cultural and agricultural landscape, as well as with the biophysical and social environment.
These agricultural heritage systems exist throughout the world and they provide goods, services and livelihoods to millions of smallholder farmers. Unfortunately, these agricultural systems are currently threatened by many factors, including the climate change and increasing pressure on the natural resources. Additionally, they have to face migration caused by low economic profitability. As a consequence, traditional agricultural practices are abandoned and there is a drastic loss of endemic and local varieties and species.
These sites are rich in agricultural biodiversity and wildlife and they are important sources of indigenous knowledge and ancient cultures. Its cultural, ecological and agricultural diversity is still evident in many parts of the world amd they are maintained as unique systems of agriculture. In this way, they contribute to the agricultural and technological innovation base of the future. The general objective of the GIAHS Program is to identify and safeguard the worldwide agricultural systems and their landscapes, the agricultural biodiversity and knowledge systems, establishing a long-term program to support these systems and to enhance the global, national and local benefits derived from the dynamic conservation, the sustainable management and the enhanced viability.
The cultivation techniques in the vineyard of grapes for raisins in the Axarquía territory are ancestral, due to the impossibility of intensification, which results in a scarce profit margin for this crop. In the Axarquía a set of conditions converge, making difficult to perform the cultivation tasks. Thus, the tasks are necessarily run in manual form. In this way, the slopes of the land exceed the safety limits for carrying out mechanical work. It is a very low-tech agriculture that upholds the traditions, that maintains the same cultural practices of the past, without abuse of synthetic products and with a predominance of environmentally-friendly agricultural practices (minimum tillage, use of organic material, etc.), which entails a high use of workforce.
The entire grape production and raisin production process is carried out manually with traditional tasks that have been passed down from generation to generation and which constitute a part of the system's agricultural heritage. In this way planting and tillage are done by hand as well as pruning, for which the winegrower uses specific scissors, and fertilization, which, every two years, leads the farmer to apply manure by hand. Finally, the few phytosanitary treatments that are applied are done by means of a rucksack, carried on the farmer's back.
When harvest time arrives, the grape bunches are cut with a knife and put into the "aportaderas" or boxes that will later be placed on a frame called “espedrera”, to be placed upon the mule that will transport the grapes to the winery. The process ends with the removal of the raisins from the bunch, once the drying of the grapes is finished.
In the Axarquia, the plantation system used is relevant: triangular plantation ("a tresbolillo"), which presents a clear predominance over the other systems used, occupying 90% of the district surface. This system is the one that best adapts to the topographical characteristics of the area, since the placement of the plants in parallel and diagonal rows helps to stop erosion and run off. The impossibility of mechanization leads farmers to increase planting density, which can reach 5,000 vines per hectare.
The planting system is complemented by goblet pruning for the formation of the strain. In order to form the plant, a single vine shoot is chosen as a guide, and a visible bud is pruned over the blind one. The following year, another shoot with similar characteristics is left, which will be pruned at three exposed buds. In this way, three shoots are obtained, of which two are chosen and they will form a very open "V". The formation will continue until four arms are obtained.
Likewise, the annual fruiting pruning is significantly specific, as it seeks to obtain lax bunches, which are not very compact and with large berries, and which allow to obtain raisins with the highest quality. Pruning is performed by leaving 4, 5 and up to 6 arms for each plant, on each arm a spur with two buds is left, one that will be the fruiting bud and the other one, destined to lengthen the arm that will shade the bunch during the summer and that will allow the lengthening the following year.
The climatic limitations of the area lead the winegrower to try to select spurs that go downwards, which makes possible than grape bunch rests on a clean bed and that new shoots appear, which cover the bunches during the summer ripening period. This form of work results in a farming system that do not respond essentially to the functioning and organization of the postulates on which the capitalist economy is based, but it has a marked family character, featured by a low level of capital versus to an abundance of workforce. This agricultural economy, based on a smallholder or land tenure structure with identical characteristics, conditioned the intense dedication of family members to this crop. Thus, whereas the men performed the hardest tasks of planting, tilling, pruning, harvesting and working in the "paseros" (specific structures for drying and other tasks), the women participated in collecting the vine shoots, chopping and selecting the raisins and also turning the raisins in the "paseros".
Data sheet of the area:
Location: The Málaga Raisin Production System in La Axarquía is located in the natural district of La Axarquía, at the eastern end of the province of Málaga, which is one of the eight provinces that make up the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, in the South of Spain.
Coordinates: 36º50’00’’ N / 4º10’00’’ W
GIAHS area: The GIAHS comprises a total area of 28,039 hectares, distributed between 16,673 ha in the Eastern Axarquía subzone and 11,366 ha in the Lower Axarquía. In this area there are 1,113 hectares of grape production destined to raisins and 13,310 hectares of other crops, among them 1,532 hectares dedicated to the production of grapes, not necessarily for raisins.
Population: According to the latest available data, the total population of the district goes up to 206,226 inhabitants, the Municipality of Vélez Málaga, in the coastal area, is the most populated, with a population close to 79,000 inhabitants. In total there are 31 municipalities that make up the Axarquía territory.
Topographical characteristics: The average altitude reached by the Axarquía district is 391 meters. Even though this average is high, it is no less true that the identity of the district configures a territory that projects a relief with steep slopes, where in just 40 km in a straight line we pass from 2,068 m. altitude in the highest peak (Tejeda or La Maroma peak, in the Natural Park Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama) to the sea level. The average slope of the producing area is greater than 45% in more than a half of its territory, the vine and other woody plants are the main barriers to the desertification of these areas.
Climatic classification: The climate in the region is Mediterranean, with an average temperature of approximately 17º.
The Barroso is a landscape and natural composition of the North of Portugal, it is a part of the Peneda Gerês National Park, where the existing agricultural system is conditioned by the edaphic-climatic characteristics, where small properties abound and also the breeding of cattle, sheep and goats in grazing system. They are preponderant in the agricultural economy of the region, as well as pig farming, which constitutes a fundamental contribution to family economies, with a relevant social role.
It is a system that has been maintained, practically until today, with a rural subsistence economy, typical of mountain areas, with a low intensity in the use of productive tools, with very few surpluses and in which the level consumption of the populations is relatively lower than in other regions of the country.
The agricultural holdings are generally small and medium-sized and the agroclimatic conditions have promoted collective exploitation habits where there is a community effort for the benefit of each inhabitant, with relations between neighbours, based on mutual help and solidarity. The isolation and the difficulties for large agricultural productions promoted archaic ways of life, based on a strong sense of community in each village, where self-sufficiency and solidarity among the inhabitants are very specific cultural elements.
Forest areas are dominated by Quercus pyrenaica oak and Pinus pinaster pine forests, as well as thickets of various species. In the lower altitude areas there are Quercus robur oak forests and in the highest mountains (> 800 m) Pinus nigra and Pinus sylvestris pine forests can be found, being the latter more adapted to conditions of adverse wind and more frequent snow. Forests of riparian alder (Alnus glutinosa), ash (Fraxinus angustifolia), birch (Betula celtiberica) and willow (Salix atrocinera) are present along the water lines.
Agricultural crops are mainly rainfed, predominantly rye and potatoes, cultivated in a rotation system with fallow land. Closer to the villages and their houses, a belt of irrigated crops remains (especially for the family orchards), followed by permanent pastures for hay production and cattle grazing. Further away from the village, there are dryland cereal fields and uncultivated bushland areas where herds of various types of livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) graze.
The geographical location, orography, soils, climate, and man led to the development of an important plant and animal ecosystem, including threatened species/populations. These are humanized landscapes with a strong cultural identity of population communities, which were built in a close and intelligent relationship with the natural environment: the exploitation system of resources is performed in a sustainable manner, resulting in high levels of biodiversity and environmental quality.
Therefore it is not surprising that part of this territory is covered by the unique national park in Portugal, the Peneda Gerês National Park, which is also classified as the Gerês-Xurês Transfrontier Biosphere Reserve and by the Red Natura 2000, ZEP Serra. do Gerês and the Peneda / Gerês site. Both the extension of the scope of these typologies (more than 70% of Barroso), and their quality, reveal the enormous importance of the region at national and international scale, in terms of nature conservation and biodiversity.
Culturally, the populations of Barroso have developed and preserved ways of social organization, practices and rituals that distinguish them from the majority of the country's populations, in habits, language, values, as a result of either the conditions and the geographic isolation or the limited natural resources, which forced the development of methods of coexistence and use which were compatible with its sustainability. One of its differentiating aspects is the strong predominance of a local food system, based on local products and dishes, made with locally produced smoked meat, bread, potatoes, cabbage and legumes.
The role of different types of landscape, mountains, plateaus and valleys, and the historical role of agriculture in the construction of the landscape, gave way to the appearance of villages with local identity and that act as vectors for the production of local identities.
Data sheet of the area:
Location: The Barroso region is located in Northern Portugal, in the Alto Tâmega Region bounded to the east by the River Tâmega, to the west by the mountainous regions of the Upper Minho, to the south by Terras de Basto, and to the north by Galicia (Spain). In administrative terms, it covers 2 municipalities: Boticas and Montalegre.
Coordinates: 41.715848; -7.826219
GIAHS area: 1,127.40 km2
Population: 15,589 inhabitants
Topographical characteristics: The Barroso area consists of plains and mountainous areas, its general appearance is that of a compact mass of highlands, formed by a group of mountains separated by wide depressions and plains, crossed by many permanent but small water courses.
The Gerês (1,546 m high), Larouco (1,525 m) and Barroso (1,279 m) mountain stand out. The most significant valleys are those of the Tâmega, Cávado, Beça, Terva and Rabagão rivers. On the steeper slopes, cultivated land, specially pasture, is arranged in small terraces, supported by granite stone walls.
Climatic classification: Temperate climate, dominated by the Plateau Cold Land type, but also with Cold Mountain Areas, High Mountain Areas and Transition Areas.
The "Territorio del Sénia" (Sénia Territory) is located in Spain, in the area where the Valencia, Catalonia and Aragon regional autonomous communities converge. This territory is made up of 27 municipalities linked by their geography, history, language and culture and it has the largest concentration of millenary olive trees in the world.
The existence of 6,500 millenary olive trees makes this area a unique place, offering local communities numerous opportunities for rural development -including the recovery of abandoned ancient olive trees and their setting into production to obtain olive oil- and a greater cooperation among economic sectors, along with "oil tourism" and other advantages.
The average annual production of the olive oil in the area is estimated in more than 12,000 tons. These income-generating activities have greatly helped to improve the living conditions of the local population. There are also autochthonous olive tree varieties that contribute to biodiversity.
FOOD AND LIVELIHOOD SECURITY
In the Territorio Sénia, the distribution by economic sectors is as follows: agriculture 13%, construction 11%, industry 11% and services 65%. The importance of agriculture must be highlighted, despite the fact that the majority of the population works in the service sector.
Both agricultural and livestock activities in Territorio Sénia maintain a balance and they are closely related. The olive oil requires other activities of the primary sector, at the same time that it supports it. It is a sustainable system, both economically and environmentally.
The Territorio Sénia is a great producer of olive oil since 12 million liters are produced per year, varying from one harvest to another. Likewise, the olive oil produced in the Territorio Sénia has not only a commercial purpose but also self-consumption is important.
The olive varieties are very old and authochtonous. They probably originated when the first farmers selected the wild olive variety in a certain area. When selecting this variety, the specimens with the largest fruit, high oleic acid content, frost tolerance and wind resistance were sought. For this reason, it is said that each variety is unique and adapted to the climatic conditions of each specific area.
In the area of the Mancomunidad (association of municipalities) of Taula del Sénia, four large authochtonous varieties can be found, which cover a large part of the surface of the olive-growing area. The most important varieties are: Farga, Morruda, Sevillenca and Empeltre. It is also worth mentioning other minority varieties that are also grown throughout the territory and that are very important for their authochtonous diversity, such as Canetera, Llumeta, Cuquello and Marfil.
There is a great genetic richness within the population of olive trees in the Territorio Sénia. Possibly due to their history, each variety arrived at the region at different times and from different origins. Therefore, this diversity can also be observed in both the agronomic behaviour of the olive trees and the characteristics of the oil that each variety can produce.
LOCAL AND TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS
The ancestor of the olive tree is the wild olive tree that spread throughout the Mediterranean thanks to bird species such as the thrush. This tree was domesticated in the Middle East 7,000 years ago and the domesticated varieties were transferred to the Iberian Peninsula by different civilizations.
Many of the techniques of olive cultivation and oil production practised today were used in ancient times, as described in Roman and Arab agricultural treatises. Obviously, these treatises have not been read by farmers who have cultivated olive trees for generations and they have not heard of Columella or Cato, as their knowledge has been transmitted orally, from generation to generation of farmers and they have been adapted to the characteristics of the territory.
The practices around the cultivation of the olive tree are common throughout the Territorio Sénia and some characteristics and techniques used are typical of this territory, since they depend on olive tree type and variety, the climatic conditions and the legacy of traditions from past generations.
• Planting patterns: 12 meters distances between trees and absence of geometry in most cases. It is a legacy of the way in which the olive cop started in this area. The people took advantage of the wild olive trees that already existed and they selected the most vigorous ones to be used for grafting.
• Very low planting densities, between 50 and 70 olive trees per hectare.
• Formation systems of 1 foot per olive tree. The traditional olive grove has usually 2 or 3 feet per olive tree.
• Tree size: monumental specimens with large crowns.
• 99% of the olive tree in the Territorio Sénia is a traditional rainfed crop.
• The renewal of the olive trees is not done on the entire farm at the same time. The olive trees that die are progressively replaced by other young trees.
• The predominant varieties in the territory can only be found in this area: farga, sevillenca and morruda.
• Pruning depends on tree size and area climate.
• Dry stone constructions (Valonas) or mounded land are used to protect the trunks of these large-crowned olive trees from the wind.
• Pest control (olive fly) is carried out in a coordinated manner throughout the territory by means of trapping.
• Regarding the production of olive oil, there is a strong tradition of association through cooperatives that mill the olives of hundreds of members.
• Capacity for collaboration between the different cooperatives and olive oil producers. Although they are competitors, they can join to manage the Territorio Sénia Millenary Olives project, to create the Farga Millenary Oil Guarantee Mark and to follow the Regulations and good practices.
CULTURES, VALUE SYSTEMS AND SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS
The traditions about olive oil and olive cultivation are part of the culture of the Territorio Sénia. Some of the millenary olive trees of Territorio Sénia have their own name and their own history or legend, which is being transmitted from parents to children.
Among the uses of olive oil, the culinary is the most widespread, appreciated and suitable to enjoy the health benefits of olive oil. It is the base of most Mediterranean dishes and its aromatic nuances are the culmination of any dish.
Cultural events with a playful nature around the olive tree and the olive oil world highlight traditional practices and they celebrate the outstanding milestones of the annual cycle of olive cultivation and the extraction of its oil. The agricultural work of the olive tree is varied and complex and it usually requires the participation of several people and their families. Thus, these practices are considered a social action where efforts, experiences and conversations are shared.
• Mancomunidad of Taula del Sénia. Local public entity, which is made up of 27 municipalities of the Valencia Catalonia and Aragon regional autonomous communities. It works in cooperation with numerous public and private sectors and it leads the program for the conservation and value recovery of the millenary olive trees of its territory. These municipalities have in common their history, geography, language, culture and the highest concentration of millenary olive trees.
• Territorio Sénia Association. Private non-profit association that is made up of 50% by the Mancomunidad and 50% by different economic sectors. The agreement between the two parties (public and private) is necessary in decision-making. In addition to all the mills included in the Guarantee mark, there are also owners of olive trees, restaurants and tourist companies, among others, that are part of the Association.
• Local community. It encompasses the extensive associative network in the area: cultural, civic, sport and environmental entities, among others. These entities collaborate by participating in the European Heritage Days as well as in festive events related to the millenary olive trees.
LAND AND SEA LANDSCAPES
The Territorio Sénia is a land of contrasts, as confirmed by its landscapes.
10 municipalities of the Mancomunidad are located at more than 1,000 meters above sea level. The highest peak is Tossal d'en Canader (1,396 m). In addition, the Tossal del Rei (1,356 m) is the point where Valencia, Catalonia and Aragon meet.
Moreover, extensive livestock (ovine and bovine) is very important, specially in mountainous areas, where the landscapes are steeper and more rugged and large areas of pasture are needed for their support. Within these areas there are also livestockers who continue to practice transhumance.
Another differentiated zone is the intermediate one, where the municipalities are located between 100 and 500 meters above sea level. There, the common and basic crop is the olive tree, that is why a landscape known as "the sea of olive trees" is created. However, there are also other crops such as carob, almond tree and cereal. It is in this area where the largest concentration of ancient olive trees in the Territorio Sénia is present.
Olive tree cultivation in the Territorio Sénia is a unique adaptation to space with a long and fruitful history. It has its roots in the first processes of agricultural domestication and it has played a key role in its history, culture, economy, ecology and embellishment of its landscapes. Therefore, the olive tree is an essential part of the landscape of Territorio Sénia and constitutes the livelihood of a large part of the population of these lands. The olive tree and its derived products are part of the culture, art, literature, folklore, rituals and, obviously, the gastronomy.
The olive trees of Territorio Sénia are characterized by the presence of traditional varieties of olive trees such as Farga, Morruda, Sevillenca and Empeltre, which are difficult to find outside these lands, something that contributes to the personality and authenticity of the landscape.
At the same time, it is difficult to find a territory with so many kilometres of coastline. In the areas which are closest to the sea we find irrigated crops, specially citrus and farms dedicated to the cultivation of artichokes and other vegetables. In the coastal areas we find other totally different landscapes, such as the extensive rice fields of the Ebro delta or the oyster and mussel crops that shape a unique landscape.
Data sheet of the area:
Location: The Agricultural System Millenary Olive Trees of the Sénia Territory is made up of 27 municipalities located at the meeting point of 3 different regional autonomous communities (15 Valencian, 9 Catalan and 3 Aragonese).
Coordinates: 40.621330, -0.099138
GIAHS area: GIAHS has a total area of 207,000 ha and 33,800 are dedicated to olive cultivation.
Population: 112,510 inhabitants.
Topographical characteristics: There are 3 very different areas: mountain, intermediate plains and coast.
- Mountain: steep landscape, steep slopes and heights exceeding 1,000 m. There are 11 municipalities that occupy 61% of the territory and 12% of the population.
- Plains: formed by wide plains and some medium altitude mountains. There are 12 municipalities that occupy 27% of the territory and 17% of the population.
- Coast: includes the entire coastline, with minimum heights above sea level. There are 4 municipalities that have 12% of the territory and 71% of the population.
Climatic classification: although there are differences between the three zones, in general the climate is Mediterranean, but there are usually strong contrasts: some cold and snow in the internal parts, hurricane-force winds at some point, intense heat in the summer. The annual rainfall varies between the driest and wettest years, but there are quite a few differences within the territory, generally it rains more in the mountain areas than in the other areas.
From the Bay of Aiguillon to Niort, from the Vendée plain to that of Aunis, the Marais Poitevin (Poitou Marshes) comprises 92 municipalities (280,765 inhabitants) divided into 3 departments and 2 regions.
It is also a true mosaic of landscapes with the bay of Aiguillon. and the coast, between the ocean and fresh water, the parched marshes and the Lay Valley and its infinite landscapes, the humid marshes, the Green Venice, a delicate alliance of water and vegetation.
That is why it has been rewarded with 3 labels: Parc Naturel Régional du Marais Poitevin (Marais Poitevin Regional Natural Park, PNR), Great Site of France, European Destination of Excellence. A tourist destination in its own right on the Atlantic, just 2 hours by car from Bordeaux or Nantes and 2 hours and 15 minutes by High Speed Train from Paris, attracting 1,400,000 visitors each year.
Focusing on the recognition of the commitment with sustainability, the quality of accommodation, the tourist services and the local producers, the Marais Poitevin Regional Natural Park has chosen to display the national brand "Valeurs PNR" (Values PNR).
Candidates are committed to protect the environment, the well-being of local people and workers, and the local economy. The Park has already awarded the brand to more than 80 professionals, who offer agrifood products, traditional and innovative knowledge and tourism services. 30 tourist services have already obtained the brand: 11 hostels, 9 rooms, 3 guided boat trips (docks), 6 visitor sites, 1 guided bike ride...
The PNR is the first regional natural park in France which has launched a beef brand (45 producers).
Both public authorities and local actors join around fundamental values that give meaning to their actions. The Marais Poitevin Regional Natural Park, far from being a "closed" space, is above all an inhabited territory, which must always remain in evolution.
Data sheet of the area:
Location: Marshlands of Poitevin Regional Natural Park is located on the Atlantic coast, between Bordeaux and Nantes, which is made up of 92 municipalities, divided into 2 departments and 2 administrative regions.
Coordinates: 46.321946 / -0.585534
Site Area: 107,526 ha with 35,200 ha covered by natural pasture. With about 1,500 farms, agriculture focuses on livestock (bovine, equine) and the cultivation of cereals (wheat, rapeseed, corn, sunflower). In the Bay of Aiguillon, mussel farming is one of the main activities of the inhabitants, representing 15% of the national production.
Population: 280,765 inhabitants
Topographical characteristics: It is considered the first wetland of the Atlantic coast with 8,200 km of waterways, 1,000 km of dykes, 850 km of bike routes, 594 hydraulic structures, 330 species of birds, 750 species of plants. It is also a true mosaic of landscapes with the bay of Aiguillon and the coast, between the ocean and fresh water, the parched marshes and the Lay valley with its infinite landscapes, the humid marshes, the Green Venice, a delicate alliance of water and vegetation.
Climatic classification: The climate is oceanic, mostly affected by a western flow that causes an environment of certain softness and humidity. The thermal inertia of the ocean allows the heat accumulated in summer to be returned in winter and the coolness accumulated in winter, to be returned in summer.
The geographical space "O Montado da Serra de Serpa" is located in the municipality of Serpa, in the southeast of Portugal, in the Alentejo region, next to the border with Spain. This territory has unique characteristics in the context of the traditional Mediterranean agriculture, rainfed and markedly of subsistence.
This subsistence relationship between human beings and nature, in a context marked by isolation and in a place with adverse edaphic and climatic characteristics, resulted in a self-sustaining, resilient and landscape-structuring agricultural system.
Inserted in the border of Portugal, the territory has a population density of approximately 12 inhabitants/km2, with its current population estimated in 7,500 inhabitants. Approximately 37% of the 621.5 km2 are classified as natural spaces. In land use, the agroforestry domain (agriculture, pasture, agroforestry areas and forests) is 96%. The relationship between work and land is also particular, with 40 ha of Used Agricultural Land by Agricultural Work Unit, with the national average being 12.5 ha. In livestock, the territory has more than half of the herbivorous and granivorous livestock in the municipality, witnessing in recent decades a decrease in the wealth generated by plant production. The percentage of the value of livestock production has been growing in this period and, within this context, there has also been an increase in livestock and a decrease in small ruminants. Regarding the average size of the farms, it is approximately 3.5 times the national average, of 14ha.
If the municipality of Serpa is one of the most representative of the extensive systems in Portugal, in the proposed territory there is a living example of a system, unique in the world, namely: the Montado Agro-Silvo-Pastoral System. It is this system, which is still maintained today, that can be widely observed in the Serra de Serpa. Naturally, the practices associated with such a system constitute elements of the ages-old heritage with important dimensions such as the cultural, economic and biodiversity history.
Concomitantly and interconnected, there is also a mosaic made up of other extensive systems: a) Livestock Production b) Rainfed herbaceous crops, c) Traditional olive groves and d) Orchards and rainfed orchards.
The agrobiodiversity that constitutes the Montado, fruit of knowledge which has been transmitted from generation to generation, is shown through a numerous set of varieties, species and breeds, many of them native, which give rise to various diversified productions. A significant number of vegetable varieties and native breeds, as well as productions, are now properly recognised. This is the case of the Cordovil, Verdeal and Galega varieties that give rise to Moura PDO olive oil; the Serpentine Goat that gives rise to the Cabrito do Alentejo PGI; Campaniça and Merina sheep that give origin to Serpa PDO cheese; the Mertolenga Beef, PDO; the PDO Meat from Alentejo; the Alentejo Pig that originates the PDO Alentejo Pork Meat, the PGI Baixo Alentejo Meat Sausage and the PDO Alentejo Ham and also from the production of bees that gives rise to the PDO Alentejo Honey.
In the field of biodiversity, the wide range of existing fauna and flora species is also of high value, many of which are only found in this space and/or deserve a conservation status.
Traditional know-how, if it is closely related to the primary production systems mentioned above, results into an agrifood specialization of the territory, that is also diverse and that is expressed in various productions that are part of the "Mediterranean Diet", classified as Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO. This Includes bread, olive oil and canned food and olives, dairy products (sheep cheese, cottage cheese, Guadiana goat cheese), meat products (ham, chara head and "torresmos" -pork rind and fat-, along with eight varieties of sausages such as the "Vila Nova mangotes").
However, the knowledge that still exists today is not limited to agrifood production, but it is also present in extensive grazing and the art of the rattle (also recognized by UNESCO); in shearing, in the treatment of wool and looms; in the management of the montado, in the production of mountain pigs and cork production; in the identification and collection of mushrooms and herbs; in hunting and fishing; in traditional construction (mud construction) and in a set of more than fifteen traditional arts and crafts.
In the field of local culture, the "Cante Alentejano", the Alentejo singing (classified by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity), is iconic, but the following aspects are not less important: the diet, the socializing spaces of the tavern, the adiafa -traditional banquet-, the Christmas tree and the religious festivals together with three events of superior importance both in the field of knowledge preservation and in the economic and tourist sphere: the Serpa Ethnographic Parade, the Alentejo Cheese Fair and the Sausage and Ham Fair.
To conclude the set of heritage elements, if the diversity of present agricultural systems originates, in a single space, a no less diverse set of landscapes of the Mediterranean countryside, it is worth mentioning the one that gave rise to the name of the space proposed for GIAHS, the "Montado da Serra de Serpa".
Data sheet of the area:
Location: The geographical space "the Montado da Serra de Serpa" is located in the municipality of Serpa, southeast of Portugal, in the Alentejo region, next to the border with Spain.
Coordinates: 37.94352, -7.59879
Site Area: 621.5 Km2
Population: 7,500 inhabitants
Topographical characteristics: The average altitude reached is 191 metres.
Climatic classification: With a Mediterranean climate, with a tendency to semi-arid, the region has dry and hot summers, with temperatures around 25°C, where the maximum temperature can exceed 40°C. Winter has average temperatures of 8°C, with minimum temperatures that are often negative. The average annual temperature is 16.6°C. Precipitation is low, with an annual average of 537 mm, concentrated in the months of November to January. Sun exposure is high, with mean annual values between 3,000 and 3,100 hours.
A volcanic mid-mountain territory
Cantal is a French department located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Aples region, in the centre of the Massif Central. It has always been an agricultural and livestock territory. Its agriculture has been built over time from a natural wealth: grass. Its varied landscapes and large extensions of meadows (over 90% of the agricultural area is pasture) were shaped by the largest volcano in Europe. From its centre and beginning in star, an ensemble of twenty valleys, sometimes wide, sometimes narrow, sometimes wooded, sometimes bare, radiate out. The high grassland plateaus bear witness of the ancient lava flows that formed them and they provide rich pastures highly tested by animals. The omnipresence of water generates particularly green landscapes (hence the term "green country" given to Cantal). Waterfalls, gorges, lakes and peat bogs constitute very diverse landscapes. The flora and fauna are characteristic of a mid-mountain area.
Cattle breeding and cheese production land
In Cantal cattle breeding predominates. There are more cows than inhabitants in this rural area! The traditional system of agropastoralism has been preserved, with animals spending the winter at the bottom of the valley before moving to summer pastures to graze the rich mountain grass until the first snows. The "montée à l'estive" (rise to the mountain pastures) is celebrated every year in Allanche during the "Fête de l'Estive" (l'Estive Festival). As diet is mainly based on pasture this breeding system respects the environment and the biodiversity of the territory. The Cantal has a local breed of cow, the Salers breed. It is a rustic cow with a mahogany-colored fur and lyre-shaped horns that is known for her maternal qualities and ease of rearing. It is still largely reared in the territory. Livestock is used for both meat production and milk production.
Cantal is a land of cheeses with ancestral production techniques. It produces 5 cheeses with an official quality seal (PDO: Protected Designation of Origin) with specifications based mainly on grass-fed milk production: Cantal, Salers, Saint-Nectaire, Fourme d'Ambert and Bleu d'Auvergne. Among these cheeses, Cantal cheese and Salers cheese are hard and raw cow's milk cheeses. It takes a minimum of 33 hours to make a piece of about 40 kg. A long production cycle, inherited from the ancestral know-how of cheese. The Cantal can be tasted from 2 months of maturation to 12, 15, 18 months. An exclusively agricultural production cheese, Salers offers only seasonal production from April 15 to November 15 when the cows are in the pasture and produce milk of high nutritional and cheese quality. Another production inherited from ancestral know-how is the production of Salers Tradition cheese. It is obtained exclusively from the milk of Salers breed cows. The milking of Salers cows is unique and specific. The Salers cow does not give her milk only if the calf is by her side. It is the calf which initiates the milking. It absorbs the first jets of milk, and only then the cow can be milked.
Besides cheese, many agricultural products are made in the area: meat, sausages, honey, blueberries, chestnuts, apples, lentils and even wine. The roots of a highland grassland plant called Yellow Gentian are used to produce liqueurs and aperitifs such as Avèze and Salers.
A built heritage, witness of the agriculture of the past
The rural built heritage reflects past agricultural traditions. It is found throughout the territory: traditional barn/stable, drinking trough in the centre of the farmhouses, horseshoe work, mill and of course, the burons. They are small buildings with slate roofs that stand on the walks in the middle of the meadows as ancient pasture habitats. This is where farm workers used to spend the summer herding cows, milking and making cheese. Pieces of Cantal cheese were matured in these stone and clay vaulted cellars. They had come to the farm in autumn, along with the cows. Today, burons have been abandoned for manufacturing but some are rehabilitated as second summer homes or tourist accommodation.
Similar GIAHS characteristics
Preserved nature and biodiversity, mid-mountain volcanic landscapes, breeding country par excellence, emblematic indigenous breed of cow in the territory, preserved rural built heritage, ancestral tradition of cheese making, all these aspects make Cantal a territory that can be comparable to the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) defined by the FAO.
A strong link between agriculture and tourism
Cantal's economy is based on agriculture and tourism. Firstly attracted by the volcanic landscapes and outdoor activities, the tourist comes in search of the local cuisine (cheeses of course but also meat, sausages and other products that make up the typical dishes of Cantal) and the discovery of farms and local breeding that shape the landscape of the territory and promote the economy of the different villages of the department through festivals and agricultural markets.
Data sheet of the area:
Location: Cantal is a department located in central France, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
Coordinates: Latitude: 45.116667 / Longitude: 2.866667
Site Area: 5,726 km²
Population: 143,627 inhabitants
Topographical characteristics: Mid-mountain zone, mainly occupied by the Cantal volcanic massif, the vestige of an ancient volcano of about 60 km in diameter. On the slopes of the massif, several valleys descend, drawn by glacial erosion. 95% of the area is made up of meadows.
Climatic classification: Cantal is divided into three climatic zones: the suboceanic west with abundant rainfall, the mountainous centre with heavy rain and heavy snowfall in winter, and the cool, drier subcontinental east further south.