Characterization and challenges of livestock farming in Mediterranean protected mountain areas (Sierra Nevada, Spain)
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research
Aim of study: To characterize and analyse the extensive livestock farming systems in environmental protected area and propose strategies for their sustainable improvement.Area of study: Sierra Nevada Protected Area (Spain)Material and methods: Data were collected from a sample of 85 farmers and 48 experts. The information from farmers was expressed in 35 variables, 23 of which were qualitative and 12 quantitative. A multivariate analysis was conducted.Main results: The principal components
... pal components explained 71.2% of the total variance and the k-means cluster analysis identified three groups: C1 (38 farms), medium-size farms with a predominance of goats and relative dairy specialization; C2 (12 farms), large-size farms with extensive grazing lands, a high proportion of meat purpose animals and managed by young and dynamic farmers and C3 (35 farms), medium-size farms with a high proportion of meat purpose animals and undeveloped business management. The main problems reported were: insufficient pastures for livestock, stagnation of product prices, lack of generational renewal and need for social recognition of livestock farming. These obstacles could be overcome by implementing measures aimed at improving feed self-sufficiency -and thus reduce production costs- increasing income through social recognition of farming, achieving product differentiation, and strengthening short marketing channels. This would be favoured by an increase in associationism and specialized training.Research highlights: Farm management and marketing are important for improve these farming systems. The extensive livestock farming continues to be an important activity in European protected mountain areas.