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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

Towards a Future for Common Grazing - rules, norms and cooperation in outlying grazing areas

Alternative title: Mot ei framtid for utmarksbeitet – om reglar, normer og samarbeid i utmarkas beiteområder

Awarded: NOK 5.1 mill.

The outfield is changing. Throughout a generation or two, the outfield has gone from being an expanded part of the agricultural infield to becoming an arena where more and more different actors with different and partly conflicting interests need to collaborate on the use and management of the outfield. The FUTGRAZE project studies how graziers face the various challenges these changes entail. By studying four different grazing areas from north to south and from west to east in the country, the project will identify how graziers experience and meet these challenges. The project will identify "best practices" and crystallise alternative ways of organising, operating and managing grazing areas, to help to reduce the level of conflict between graziers as well as between grazing and other land use to ensure better utilisation of grazing resources in the Norwegian land. So far in the project, three of the four cases have been studied qualitatively, the fourth case was planned to be studied in the spring of 2020, but the covid 19 situation has meant that that study had to be postponed until late autumn. We are now in the process of collecting data for the latest case and expect to start analysing the data around the turn of the year. An important finding so far is that the extensive structural changes in the grazing industry have weakened the grazing interests' socio-political as well as socio-cultural position in the local community as well as in the municipality. In most local communities, the majority of the population is now more disconnected from the grazing industry, something that creates challenging conditions for understanding the graziers' situation. In cases that grow into nascent conflicts, the other interests are often politically stronger than the now "quartered" grazing interests. If the grazing industry is to meet these challenges, the graziers need to stand together in real and well-organised grazing groups that also work politically towards the municipality and county. In addition, we mean to see that the best-functioning grazing teams are also able to connect with the people in the local community who are not active graziers. This strengthens the legitimacy as well as it creates an arena for communicating and negotiating about how the various outfield users should behave in the outfield in order to be as small as possible to the detriment of each other. In all three grazing groups where we have so far conducted the qualitative study, there has been concern about the debate about ruminants and climate. In our conversations with the grazing teams, this has come up as a topic that has a negative effect on the graziers' motivation to continue in the industry. Not only do they fear a possible reduction in meat consumption, but even more strongly they feel that their status as benefactors of the cultural landscape, biodiversity and landscape aesthetics has been reversed. Despite a number of challenges, for example, the results from the comprehensive survey that went to all grazing teams in the country in the spring of 2020 show that, on the whole, the co-operation with other outfield users works well. In particular, it has been reported that hikers and hunters often make it easier to have grazing animals in the field. On the other hand, the development of cabins and cabin areas helps to make it somewhat more complicated. What seems to be the most challenging are walkers with dogs and training of hunting dogs, this is often a source of many difficulties for graziers. Besides, the study shows that the lack of fences can be a source of conflict. Lack or poor maintenance of fences makes grazing difficult and often entails a large workload for individual users. The co-operation between the graziers has been experienced as very good, although many experiences some challenges with the fact that flocks have disappeared and that some flocks have become significantly larger. One consequence of this is that some flocks are pushed out of the traditional enclosure and into areas with perhaps poorer grazing or potentially more dangerous terrain. In cases where the relationship between graziers is to be regulated or where graziers compete with other area interests such as cabin construction, forestry, hunting and the like, the Land Dispute Court is an important institute. The legal basis for such cases can be found in the Land Transfer Act § 3-8 and § 3 -10. In the project, we have analysed 20 such grazing schemes to show judgments on what material assessments, both general and detailed, have been made with a view to formulating rules on grazing.

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In line with extensive structural changes in agriculture, increasing land pressure, commodification and commercialization of outfields, the management of common grazing areas has become far more complex the latter years. In some areas, the conflict level has grown so high that several farmers cannot bear the social strain of continuing with farming. Farmers tell about a long time with poorer cooperation both internally between pasture farmers and between pasture farmers and other stakeholders, a development that has gradually led to fewer grazing animals, lower grazing pressure and steadily increasing encroachment with subsequent loss of biodiversity. While in other areas the grazing pressure has become too high relative to the grazing resources. But at the same time, in other areas, the grazing associations has manage to handle the complexity despite huge challenges sometime bigger than in the areas where the cooperation have stranded. By studying different grazing areas with different governance structures and different types of ownership, this project will identify "best practices" and crystallize alternative ways of organizing, operating and managing pasture areas, with the purpose of reducing the conflict level between farmers that use the outfield for grazing as well as between farmers and other users of the outfield to ensure improved utilization of the grazing resources in the Norwegian outfields. The project aims at identifying how we best can handle the challenges from current changes in the outfields and secure grazing resources for future food production.

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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri