Agro-pastoral systems (APS) are ubiquitous in the Mediterranean region, supporting thriving communities through the production of high-quality protein from human-inedible forage with minimal environmental impact.
APS also provide numerous services including biodiversity conservation in high nature value (HNV) farming sites, recreational opportunities, and unique geo-cultural identities, while simultaneously conferring benefits to regional ecosystems through wildfire prevention or grassland preservation.
Despite increasing demand for the varied and valuable societal benefits and ecosystem services (ES) provided by APS throughout the Mediterranean, the livelihoods of pastoral actors and the viability of APS in general are under threat, with major challenges being posed by the changing climate and misleading representation of APS in society and policy.
The working hypothesis of PACTORES is that narratives that marginalize APS (as marginal societies with low productivity and a damaging ecological footprint) persist and permeate policy, preventing recognition of their true contributions to social welfare.
Such issues are limiting the ability of APS to flourish and reach their full potential in providing highly demanded ecosystem goods and services in a sustainable manner.
This leads us to consider what socio-political and economic changes will be required in order to enhance the prosperity of agro-pastoral communities in the Mediterranean.
PACTORES aims to examine the (mis/)matches between pastoral communities and social expectations, using a multi-disciplinary approach to view Mediterranean APS as complex socio-ecological systems. This aim is carried out via two main objectives:
1) Identification of the main bottlenecks hindering the viability of agro-pastoral communities, with a focus on best practice in terms of environmental, socio-economic, and policy considerations
2) The conveyance of information to key audiences on the actual capacity of Mediterranean APS to provide numerous societal benefits
PACTORES adopts a socio-ecological systems (SES) approach to examine Mediterranean APS, considering that people and nature interact reciprocally through complex feedback loops.
The project will thus consider both ecological and human components, integrating ecological and social sciences to enhance the understanding of APS in the Mediterranean.
The PACTORES project is a collaboration across an interdisciplinary consortium, with 10 research centres working collectively on 7 case studies spanning 6 countries around the Mediterranean basin. The international and cross-disciplinary nature of the investigation will not only benefit from a broad perspective and expertise, but will further promote communication between participating countries and support the development of a coherent scientific and policy framework.
Effective interactions between socio-political, economic, and environmental realms will be a key strength of the project. Applying a combination of state-of-the-art and conventional tools including survey-based qualitative and quantitative approaches, the complex and multifunctional nature of Mediterranean APS will be elucidated through the case studies.
A core component of the project is the presentation of key results to relevant stakeholders and parts of society, with a highly participatory component. Intertwined with this goal is the promotion of networking among actors and the establishment of a common framework for current and future collaborations.
Policy and Governance Framework
PACTORES will look at interactions between social (pastoral communities and society at large) and ecological dimensions of the system. The broader governance and policy structure plays a central role in articulating values and therefore informing and regulating human interaction with the environment.
Folke et al., 2006
A conceptual framework for the analysis of linked social–ecological systems (SES). The focus is on the dynamics of linkages between ecosystems, knowledge (as reflected in the management practice), and institutions, and how to navigate these dynamics for better resilience and adaptive capacity.
WHERE / CASE STUDIES
The project will collect data from 7 case studies in 6 different countries, each presenting a unique set of challenges arising from the social, cultural, economic, and political landscape of the region. A goal will be to identify common themes affecting APS throughout the Mediterranean, and to use data from the case studies to suggest a policy framework.