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The XXI century mountains: sustainable management of mountainous areas based on animal traction

J.B. Rodrigues
  • Corresponding author
  • APTRAN – Portuguese Association of Animal Traction. Escola Superior Agrária de Bragança, Campus Sta. Apolónia - Caixa postal 87. 5300-253 Bragança, Portugal
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ P. Schlechter
  • FECTU asbl – Fédération Européenne du Cheval de Trait pour la Promotion de son Utilisation. 21, rue principale, L-7475 Schoos, Luxembourg H. Spychiger, Association Suisse des Atteleurs Professionnels, Sumiswald, Switzerland
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ H. Spychiger
  • Association Suisse des Atteleurs Professionnels, Sumiswald, Switzerland R. Spinelli, CNR IVALSA – Trees and Timber Institute, Via Madonna del Piano, 10, 50019 – Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ R. Spinelli
  • CNR IVALSA – Trees and Timber Institute, Via Madonna del Piano, 10, 50019 – Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ N. Oliveira / T. Figueiredo
  • CIMO – Mountain Research Center, Polytechnic Institute of Bragança (ESA/IPB), Campus de Santa Apolónia, 5301-253 Bragança, Portugal
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-06-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2017-0034


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are around 300 million working animals worldwide. They play a fundamental role in human livelihoods through their contribution to financial, human and social capital, supporting between 300 and 600 million people globally, particularly in poorer areas, where animal energy represents a huge and extremely important sustainable power resource. Yet their recognition remains largely neglected, with animal traction being largely ignored by decision and policy makers and even by civil society at all levels, which compromises a real development and improvement of this technology as well as animal welfare. On the other hand, a collective ecological and economical consciousness and an increasing awareness of public opinion about the need to reduce the excessive industrialization and mechanization of agriculture and forestry has led some sectors of society to consider the (re)use of animal traction as a valid modern source of energy. Indeed, working animals optimally transform the consumed biomass in energy and natural fertilizer, which avoids soil degradation and contributes to a sustainable management of arable lands, forests and sensitive areas. The need to maintain biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, encourage self-reliance and reduce consumption of resources also contributes to this trend.

Keywords : working animals; animal energy; mountain farming; family farming; sustainable development


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About the article

Received: 2017-01-30

Accepted: 2017-05-15

Published Online: 2017-06-30

Published in Print: 2017-02-23

Citation Information: Open Agriculture, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 300–307, ISSN (Online) 2391-9531, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2017-0034.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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