Pastoral ACTORs, Ecosystem services and Society as key elements of agro-pastoral systems in the Mediterranean (PACTORES-ERANETMED2-72-303)

Agro-pastoral systems (APS) in the Mediterranean region are commonly regarded as marginal, low productive and even ecologically damaging. However, APS can also be conceived as complex socioecological systems producing high-quality protein from human-inedible forage with minimal environmental impacts, and responsible also for the provision of multiples goods and services being increasingly demanded by society, such as high nature value farming, local products, erosion control, recreational opportunities or cultural identity. In many parts of the world agropastoralists have been the forerunners in generating favourable community transformations and in developing opportunities for sustainable practices in the  provision of multiple goods and services. However, much of this transformation potential remains untapped, because of the obstinate persistence of narratives marginalizing agropastoralism and the subsequent implementation of inadequate policies devoted to agropastoralists and relevant communities. The working hypothesis of PACTORES is that the spread of narratives marginalizing agropastoralism inhibit policymakers and the public in general from recognizing the true nature and contributions of agropastoralists, and thus from identifying them as appropriate providers of the goods and services increasingly demanded by society. PACTORES is aimed to examine the matches/mismatches between pastoral communities and social expectations seeing the Mediterranean agropastoralism as a complex socio-ecological system.

Accordingly, the three main elements of this system will be considered, namely pastures,  pastoral communities, and pastoral goods and services. Specific objectives are (i) to identify key bottlenecks for the viability of Mediterranean agro-pastoral communities by targeting best practices under policy, socioeconomic and environmental considerations, and (ii) to inform key audiences of the actual capacity of Mediterranean agro-pastoralists to provide multiple societal benefits. In doing so PACTORES will address the following key questions that mediate in the continuity of agropastoral communities in the Mediterranean basin: does the persistence of such marginalizing narratives make sense in view of the goods and services that APS provides society with?, and which are the particular socio-political and economic adjustments required to enhance the continuity of agro-pastoral communities in the Mediterranean region? Bringing together 10 research centres to work collectively on 7 case studies, PACTORES will be a unique transdisciplinary expertise, innovative methodological proficiency and in-depth understanding on the vulnerability of agropastoralism in the Mediterranean region. Expected results include: (i) identification of main ecosystem services and functions in APS and their dependence on livestock management; (ii) identification of the needs and aspirations of pastoralists and society towards these APS and to what extent current policies enhance/hinder their aspirations; (iii) identification of social demand for these systems and their related products; and (iv) identification of economic rationality of pastoralists, value and power allocation along the value chain of APS related products. Last but not least, the multidisciplinary, collaborative and cross-country nature of PACTORES is thought to stimulate the co-generation of knowledge and mutual learning between the different artners. This will not be restricted to the scientific domain, since PACTORES will actively engage in the implementation of dialogical tools to provide practitioners and key policy-makers with sound evidences of the capacities of Mediterranean agropastoralists for becoming effective providers of the goods and services increasingly demanded by society.