The safeguarding of agrobiodiversity is an extension of the concept of biodiversity conservation that refers specifically to the varieties/races of plant, animal, and microbe species of agricultural interest, as well as crop wild relatives. Many of the traditional genetic resources (both animals and plants) have been lost over time, replaced with other more productive varieties/races or due to changing consumer tastes. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that about 75% of global agrobiodiversity has been lost over the last century and that three quarters of food worldwide is produced by only 12 plant species and five animal species. The loss of agrobiodiversity represents a serious problem: one of the latest communications of the European Commission (EU COM 380, 20.5.2020) states that by 2030, it is necessary to invert the trend of genetic erosion in agriculture by, for example, the use of traditional breeds and cultivars. Traditional plant varieties and animal breeds are resources adapted to low input and organic agriculture and unique genetic reserves for genetic improvement programs to face climatic and social changes, but they are also under serious threat of disappearing. In mountain environments isolation has been in this case an advantage, as these areas are very often the crucible were the most of traditional animal breeds and plant landraces could be preserved, characterizing the agri-food and historical-cultural aspects of these areas. Today, the re-evaluation of traditional agrobiodiversity is testified by the creation of small chains of unique traditional and innovative products and by the attention of the scientiﬁc community as many landraces today are little-known or totally unknown (as regards the various genetic, agronomic, phytochemical, ecological, historical aspects, etc.). In times of climate change and disruptive social and economic change, the genetic patrimony of traditional crop and breeds could provide solutions for the resilience of mountain social-ecological systems and in general adaptive and innovative capacities for crops and farming as well as more sustainable solutions for agriculture. This Working Group aims to exchange information at a European level to list, describe, monitor, protect and promote traditional varieties and breeds and collect best practices to implement novel marketing niches based on the underpinning of local agrobiodiversity heritage.
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The Montesinho Natural Park is one of the largest natural parks in the Iberian Peninsula, located in the northeast of Portugal, in a mountainous area characterized by its extensive biodiversity, the magnificent landscapes and one of the largest patches of black oak in Europe. Since 2020, by a decision of the Portuguese government, a consortium led by More Colab has been responsible for the recovery of the former housing of the forest rangers, who in the past patrolled the Natural Park, for the installation of the “Montesinho Observatory – Dionísio Gonçalves”. The Observatory will comprise a meteorological station to study the dynamics of mountain ecosystems in the face of climate change, a conference room, co-working spaces, as well as tourist housing.
Alpine Research and Innovation Capacity Governance
A-RING addresses the overall need to pool efforts in tackling major challenges with joint Research and Innovation (R&I) approach steering EU Open Innovation path. It fosters alignment between different R&I policy initiatives and institutional frameworks to effectively address societal challenges, increases the uptake of strengths and assets, and gathers expectations from Business Sector and innovation potential from Academia, granting citizens’ needs linked to responsible R&I (RRI). A-RING Partners work on setting up the basis for an effective and permanent transnational cooperation for shared R&I policies in the Alpine Region. A-RING aims to increase the level of application of multilevel and transnational governance in the Alpine Space with the right policy mix achieved in coherence with the Public Authorities’ vision, their synergic and/or complementary approach on S3 strategies and improved environment for the collaboration including Academia and Business Sector.
Enhancement of the biodiversity of mountain territories, with reference to agrobiodiversity and derivatives: horizons of bio and green economy for the mountains
“Operating agreement between DARA – Department for regional affairs and the autonomies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers – and Ge.S.Di.Mont – Unimont pole of the University of Milan” to list, monitor, characterize the mountain agrobiodiversity and valorise niche and sustainable high values agricultural products from the mountains (horticultural landraces, officinal plants, bee products…). .
Supervision and technical scientific support to the participation of the Lombardy region in the entire process of the alpine macroregional strategy
Since the beginning of the EUSALP strategy, in January 2016, the UNIMONT Pole has supported the Lombardy Region in the leadership of the Action Group 1 whose goal is to develop an efficient ecosystem of Research & Innovation in the Alpine Region, interacting with National and Regional Institutions from 7 States and 48 Regions with the supervision of the DG Regio of the European Union. The EUSALP process has brought concrete benefits in the construction of strategic partnerships for participation in calls, as well as in the development of important tools for the promotion of the research ecosystem in the Alpine Region (eg Re-Search Alps platform and the tool for comparative analysis of S3).
Alpine winter tourism territories demonstrating an integrated framework for a low-carbon, high-impact and resilient future
SMART ALTITUDE aims at enabling and accelerating the implementation of low-carbon policies in winter tourism regions. Technical solutions for the reduction of energy consumption and GHG emissions in mountain areas relying on winter tourism today exist, with up to 40% reduction potential. However, key trade-offs are at the heart of their slow uptake: they require stronger and innovative involvement to overpass strategic (goals, priorities, risks), economic (costs, financing) and organizational (partnership, stakeholder involvement) challenges. SMART ALTITUDE will demonstrate the efficiency of a decision support tool integrating all challenges into a step-by-step approach to energy transition. The project clearly innovates by deploying a comprehensive approach of low-carbon policy implementation based on impact maximization accounting for technical, economic and governance factors. It is based on common performance indicators, monitoring systems (snow processes, municipal infrastructure, renewables, buildings etc.) and Energy Management Systems (EMS) in mountain territories, to build a shared situational awareness and take impactful decisions. The approach is implemented in 3 real-field demonstrations and prepares for replication in 20 other Alpine Space territories.
SILVER SMEs aims to improve the implementation and delivery of regional policies for SMEs competitiveness by building on significant opportunities arising from the Silver Economy in rural and mountainous regions. The project will focus on SMEs’ development opportunities to produce goods and products for the retired (from 62 years old) in 9 different regions in Europe.
OREKA MENDIAN is an EU LIFE project running from 2016 to 2021, which aims to create a sustainable balance between the preservation and socio-economic uses of Basque mountain pastures. Indeed, mountain pastures being both very rich ecosystems in terms of biodiversity but simultaneously highly endangered ecosystems in Europe, they should be sustainably managed to guarantee the conservation of the habitats and species that coexist within them. In particular, the project will develop a strategy for the conservation and the management of mountain pastures located in 15 Natura 2000 sites in the Spanish Basque Country, as well as in 8 Special Preservation Zones in French Basque Country.
In the high slopes of the Andorran Pyrenees, as in other mountain regions, climate change has already begun to alter the landscape. Some species are moving to higher latitudes, and some have begun to decline. The ways humans use the land also causes shifts in the natural order of things, but little research has been done on how people have impacted this particular place. Questions of how climate change and human encroachment continue to alter this alpine world need answers as local organizations work towards sustainable solutions. Wildlife in the Changing Andorran Pyrenees is a citizen science project in which volunteers participate in the field work, studying the most relevant natural components in the tree line, including the soil microbial community, small and large mammals, birds, and black pine trees.