Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park supports mountain agriculture
The aims of the protected areas (according to the framework law no. 394 of 1991) include the “safeguard of the agricultural, forest, and breeding activities”.
In the Park, like in the whole alpine area, agriculture has suffered in the latest 30 years a gradual and dramatic abandonment, with a drastic reduction of the number of workers and the number of enterprises (see chart).
In order to countervail this dramatic trend, support the activity of the agricultural holdings, and improve the management of the primary sector, the Park has implemented several projects that can be schematically grouped in four areas of intervention:
1. Planning and management
In order to plan the activities of the primary sector compatibly with the environmental safeguard needs, projects for the study and analysis of the agricultural, forest, and breeding factors of the Park have been carried out. In particular, the “forestry special project” for the woodland factor and the “mountain pasture recovery and meadow and pasture management special project” for the grassland management factor.
Besides the planning, projects of active management of the meadow surface areas have been started with the mowing project, started in 2009 thanks to a co-financing of Fondazione Cariverona.
2. Support to summer mountain pasture breeding
The main agricultural activity carried out within the Park is the summer mountain pasture breeding. In order to adequately support it, instead of issuing massive financial aids, the Park has preferred to invest in the recovery of the mountain pastures to improve, together with infrastructures, also the life and working conditions of the breeders. The project regarding mountain pastures also represented an occasion to apply innovative technologies through the fossil free project: thanks to this project, all mountain pastures exclusively use renewable sources of energy.
3. Safeguard of the agronomic biodiversity
Mountain agriculture is often based on traditional techniques and uses species and varieties that no longer exist in the holdings practicing intensive agriculture.
In order to safeguard a biodiversity heritage that is also a cultural and genetic richness, the projects “cultivated biodiversity” and “beer barley” have been carried out.
4. Promotion of the organic, traditional, and local production
In this field, the first step was the census of the traditional agricultural and agri-foodstuffs productions present in the territory through the publication of the Slow Food Atlas in 2002.
In order to guarantee adequate target markets to local traditional products, often top-quality products but obtained from a network of small and very small enterprises that do not have the possibility to adequately promote them, the project “Carta Qualità” was born. This project awards the Park logo to the quality agri-foodstuffs obtained in the respect of precise technical specifications.
In order to favor the adoption of organic agriculture methods, the Park has also carried out a project to co-finance the certification expenses that often, for small enterprises, represent an obstacle if they want to enter the assessment system established by the European Union.
Moreover, in collaboration with the farmers’ professional Associations, zero-km markets have been organized in Feltre and in Belluno and in the cultural center “Piero Rossi” there is now a shop selling local foodstuffs, both those with the Park label and those coming from the other Italian National Parks that have started projects similar to “Carta Qualità” to identify and commercially enhance the foodstuff excellences of their territories.