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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

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The preservation of traditional agro-systems as a way to sustainability S18

Pinto-Correia, Teresa

Department of Development and Planning, DK-9220 Aalborg

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In the most peripheral and less fertile regions of Europe the traditional agro-systems have been preserved until recent years. These systems have proved to be in balance with strength environmental limitations, but they are nevertheless vanishing now, due to changing socio-economic conditions for agriculture and forestry, in connection with the globalisation of the market. What happens in these regions ? Land use is extensified, some productions abandoned, and the traditional systems enter in a process of degradation and progressively disappear. The final result is often land abandonment and depopulation, while heterogeneity and the specific cultural features of landscapes decrease. At the same time, in the most fertile regions of Europe, agriculture in under further intensification and specialisation, strengthening the separation between production ad nature, and the contrast between different rural worlds in different regions of Europe.

EU strategies aim at sustainable development, and for the rural world there are programmes to support agriculture in the less favoured regions, to maintain the cultural diversity, to preserve biodiversity - but these programmes are for the most unsuccessful, and do not achieve to change the development trends.

This paper defends the possibility of achieving sustainability through the preservation of the traditional agro-systems, based in a close collaboration of managers with farmers, and in the careful listening of the later by decision makers. If it necessary to define integrated guidelines in planning, to improve the production technologies and the market structure. But more than that, being the farmers the main actors in the changes occurring, it is essential to work with them, to understand their strategies and their decision making.