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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

Changes in outfield grazing - causes, impacts and measures

Alternative title: Endringer i utmarksbeiting og setring – årsaker, virkninger og tiltak

Awarded: NOK 2.1 mill.

Changes in outfield grazing and summer dairy farming (“setring”) are affected by many factors, such as farm size, the professional environment, technology, policy, profit, and livestock losses to predators. Many actors are concerned about how the reduction in setring and use of the outfields will affect local value creation, local communities, cultural heritage and landscape and environmental values. We will investigate two areas: Valdres and Nord-Østerdal/Røros. The aim of the project is to: 1) Investigate the causes of changes in outfield grazing and setring, 2) Study the effects of reduced grazing and setring, 3) Develop proposals for measures to sustain outfield grazing and setring. Goal1: We will conduct personal interviews and a survey of farmers in the two areas to find out why some choose to continue outfield grazing or to start up, whilst others quit. Similar studies will be done for setring. Goal2: We will calculate the effect of outfield grazing and setring on local value creation, including local multiplier effects. Using interviews and a survey, we will document the influence of outfield use on social capital, cultural heritage, and local identity. By comparing areas that are grazed with similar areas that have not been grazed recently, we will study how reduced outfield grazing affects feed resources, biodiversity, and climate effects (albedo and soil C sequestration). Furthermore, we will investigate how outfield grazing and bioenergy production can be combined by thinning birch forests. Goal3: Based on results from other parts of the project and meetings with actors, we will propose measures to maintain and increase outfield grazing and setring. The project is a collaboration between NIBIO, SINTEF, INN, AgriAnalyse, UiO and Swiss and US researchers. Over 50 national, regional, and local actors contribute with project support. The project is locally anchored and has a high transfer value to other parts of the country with outfield grazing and setring.

Grazing in outfields and summer dairy farming has played a crucial role for farming, local communities, cultural heritage and biodiversity. However, practices are changing, and we lack knowledge about the causes of this change and their socio-economic and environmental impacts. This project will examine these issues and provide knowledge on how to sustain outfield grazing and summer dairy farming. The Nord-Østerdal/Røros and Valdres regions will be used as cases. WP0 will secure the co-production of knowledge between researchers and stakeholders. WP1 aims to identify key factors influencing farmers’ choice of using outfields and summer dairy farming. WP2 will examine impacts from outfield grazing and summer dairy farming. WP 2.1 will estimate economic and employment impacts for the local economy. WP 2.2 will investigate how outfield grazing and summer dairy farming influence the social life and collective institutions. WP 2.3-2.5 will study possible effects on biodiversity, grazing resources and climate when grazing pressure is low over long periods, and how to combine production of bioenergy wood (birch harvest) with outfield grazing. WP3 will identify possible measures to sustain outfield grazing and summer dairy farming. The project will apply a mixed-methods approach. WP1 and WP2.2 will conduct qualitative interviews and surveys among farmers in the study areas. Besides, WP2.1 will use data from the farm business survey and public statistics combined with a survey to related businesses to calculate economic impacts for the local and regional communities. WP2.3-2.5 will collect vegetation and soil data and apply multivariate analyses and variance analyses to explain differences in plant species composition, soil carbon and albedo in different treatments. WP3 will use the results from the other WPs along with workshops with the project partners (including the stakeholder partners) to establish working groups on specific measures and policy instruments.

Funding scheme:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri