Livestock biodiversity conservation : the case of sheep and goat breeds in European marginal areas
To address the conservation of sheep and goat breeds and their contribution to rural development in marginal areas, this Thesis adopts an interdisciplinary approach, structured around four aspects: society and policy choices, noticeably the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); geographic location and marginality; farmers' choices; and the functioning of human actors and networks. The limited impact of CAP funds for livestock biodiversity conservation is assessed and alternatives to paying direct subsidies are treated. The importance of farmers' participation in education programmes focused on this type of animal breeding and of the adoption of ad-hoc marketing strategies is found to be paramount for successful on-farm conservation in the framework of an econometric ordered choice model. This model is complemented by an index measuring the relative marginality of a region. The index is built in a Geographic Information System in order to assess the impact of the farm location on breeding choices. It combines regional socio-demographic and economic variables with a concept of marginality based on land-use. Findings reveal that the farm location in a marginal area adversely affects the development of local breeds. A sociological qualitative case study provides further insights into motives and practices driving local breed conservation dynamics. Combining results from the various parts points to the need for an integrated approach to rural development that takes into account the functioning of networks and the importance of social capital. It is suggested that a multiple-stakeholder participative approach to problem-solving be adopted. This shall address issues such as the conflict over access to resources and the creation of new and niche marketing approaches that may enhance the contact between breeders and consumers.