The transformation taking place in the social and economic context of agriculture (reform of CAP, rising of environmental topics, re-negotiation of GATT, etc.) brings about deep modifications in the agricultural activities, in the objectives of producers and in their form of land use. These modifications can have important consequences on the rural espace : human desertification, evolution of landscapes, increase of certain risks such as fires, etc. This project intends to analyze the changes in 3 types of situations (Pyrenees mountains, flat lands of Provence and high plateaux of the Iberian peninsula, Mediterranean hills and medium height mountains) and to produce adequate methodologies to arrive at a diagnosis and propose interventions that will permit a re-organization of the activities in question; the objectives are to maintain reproducible exploitation systems and to master the induced ecological evolutions.
The project was set up to investigate the interaction between agriculture, the local economy and the landscape of various disadvantaged Mediterranean regions and to propose systems that are sustainable, economically and ecologically. In the Pyrenees mountains, pastures have been characterized agriculturally and ecologically and experimental plots established. Assessments have been made of forage systems and management of cattle and sheep. Models of mixed sheep and cattle grazing have been improved. On the lberian plateaux, a survey of farmers was made, feeding values of hays were investigated and an experiment was started on vetch oat production. In the Mediterranean hills, experiment were initiated on cork oak woodland with clover and grasses grazed by sheep and goats and grazing of Quercus coccifera shrubs inside and outside Pinus brutia woodland by goats. Farm surveys have been carried out on breeding and feeding management on 10 dairy goat farms and 7 meat sheep farms.
The methodology is based on experimental procedures that associate in situ observations, modelling and actual experiments; this strong interaction between observations on the farms and on the rural spaces, and the performing of the projects under controlled environments, intends to produce adequate reference points as well as term for pertinent diagnosis concerning the advised approach that concludes the research.
The approach is thus organized as to achieve a structuring among :
- spotting the diversity of farming systems, particularly livestock, their relationships with other activities taking place in the same spaces and the landscape dynamics of the latter;
- the analysis and modelling of livestock farming systems, studying the fit between herd management and land use;
- the implementation of reference and experimental research to the purpose of informing about the questions and constraints identified in the two previous points.