E-Reference book

National reports, summary report, and e-glossary

National Reports

Read the national reports of the 9 countries participating in the TRANSFARM project

Summary Report

Read the Summary Report on vocational education & training for transhumance practitioners



Vaste area of high mountain pasture / alpine pasture. The pasture landscape (alp) includes buildings, where herders respectively dairymaids/dairymen spend several month. Furthermore, alp is a synonym for common land in the mountains. In some countries, summer farm is a synonym for alp.

Common land

Land, that is used by the community of one or several municipalities respectively (all) farmers of an area.
Common land still exists today, e.g. in mountain regions (such as the Alps) or on transhumance pathways.

Dairymaid, dairyman

Persons which produce milk and cheese on both, seasonal farms and alps, but who do not, in the first place, take care of the herds.

Dehesa / Montados

The Dehesa (Spanish) or Montados (Portuguese) systems are Mediterranean wood pastures, combining native trees such as holm oak and cork oak with grasslands. The resulting landscape, which combines mature ecological elements (oak trees) with other rejuvenated ones (grasslands), maintains high biodiversity. These landscapes reached their highest extent under the influence of the growth of long-distance transhumance.

Drive from the mountain pasture

Festive driving the herds down from the high mountain pastures, the conclusion of the Alpine pasture grazing season and beginning of winter season (animals kept in sheds).

Drive to the mountain pasture

Driving herds to the mountain pastures, starting of the Alpine pasture grazing season.

Ephemeral building (shieling)

Non-permanent (not solid, spontaneously erected) seasonal (farm) construction erected for shelter. Occupied by shepherds or youngsters traveling with the animals to the summer pastures. The shieling is the archetypical building connected to transhumance.


Group of animals which do transhumance, can be of the same species or of different ones.

Synonyms: livestock, herd, herd animals


Heaths are shrubland habitats characterized by open, low-growing woody vegetation, found on mainly infertile acidic soils, or on respectively poor soils. They are similar to moorland, but they differ in terms of climate and vegetation.

Heathland is generally warmer and drier than moorland. Heathlands can be found at the coastline (e.g. Mediterranean coasts) as well as on the plain land itself (e.g. Germany).

Extensive pastureland of uncultivated, podsol soils with vegetation dominated by dwarf ericaceous shrubs, dwarf oak, and juniper.


“The person that takes care of the livestock and moves with them. In some countries, herders do also produce cheese, etc, in others not.

Synonyms: herdsman, herdswoman, guide, stockman, pastoralists.

There are many national terms and those, specifically according to the animal, e.g. shepherd”

Horizontal transhumance

Horizontal transhumance, occurring in plain or plateau regions where herders and their livestock migrate across long distances from the summer pastures far from their homes to the winter pastures close to their homes. The herd is accompanied by at least one herd person and several dogs. Today, often movable fences are erected for each grazing stop. During the transhumance movement, the herd people don’t have fixed houses. Sometimes, mobile homes are either at disposal or are brought to night places by other family members.


Systems are based on the extensive movement of herds and flocks in search of forage, led by human family units with no permanent home base.

A way of life in which a community has no permanent settlement but moves from place to place, usually seasonally and within a defined territory.

For the purpose of the TRANSFARM project, this is not treated.


Pasture also called rangeland, grassed land also includes nongrassland habitats such as heathland, moorland, and wood pasture. Pasture growth can consist of grasses, legumes, other forbs, shrubs, or a mixture.


Place where flock can be gathered together for different purposes: stop and graze in a protected environment; veterinary intervention, milking.

Small enclosure made of hurdles, simple wooden fences, and/or stones to shut in the sheep for tathing.

In Italy only known for ovine and both, a structure and a right. There are a lot of them, sometimes very ancient, not used anymore.

In Norway and Greece for newborn animals and also during the night for the whole flock.


Today, also ranger can be herders if they accompany herds in protected areas.

Seasonal farm

Name for individual farms and pastures with related buildings which are used for a certain time of the year. The area is smaller than for common land or alp.

Wooden houses for a living, storing hay, cheese production, and sometimes also tourism.

The term includes wellspring-, summer- and autumn farms with many national terms, differentiating season, architecture, material, and location.

Seasonal farmstead

Individual seasonal but permanent farm building, used in (high) altitude only in summer for living and production. There are many national-specific types.

Synonyms: shieling, hafod.

Semi-sedentary system

Systems based on a village permanently occupied by women and children from which herds and flocks, usually tended by men and boys, are absent for extended periods in search of forage. For the TRANSFARM project, this is not treated.

Sheep dogs

Special breeds, which are specially trained to watch and protect the flock.


Transhumance is a form of mobile, livestock farming with a regular, seasonal, cyclical long-distance movement of livestock (especially sheep, cows, and goats, but also horses, donkeys, and reindeer) accompanied by people between different geographical, sometimes also different climatic regions along steady routes, which lasts several months. Transhumance has regular permanent winter farms. Transhumance is related to fixed houses of different types for the different locations used during the drive. We distinguish three forms: vertical, horizontal, and urban transhumance.

Transhumance is unlike nomadism and semi-sedentary systems.

Transhumance practitioners

Generic term for all people related to transhumance in one way or another: farmers & animal owners, herders, dairymaid/dairyman.

Transhumance route

Route for droving livestock on foot (or on horses, sometimes with vehicles, esp. in Scandinavia) from one place to another, between summer and winter pasture.

Many transhumance roads were ancient routes of unknown age; others are known to date back to medieval or more recent times.

Synonyms: transhumance route, pathway, driftway

Unlike drove/drove route/drove way which means the route to the animal markets, which is only oneway, while transhumance is always two ways respectively a loop route.

Urban transhumance

An urban transhumance is a special form of horizontal transhumance as a new (sustainable) way of maintaining grassland in the urban context. Herds move along defined shorter routes along with parks, dykes, and private grounds, accompanied by herders and dogs. It is often combined with education, green infrastructure, sustainability, and other topics.

Vertical transhumance

Vertical transhumance, occurring typically in mountain regions where the animals are driven among low-altitude pastures and high-altitude pastures.

Water supply

Transhumance requires water supply which is often based on artificial, sometimes very old, installations: e.g. small ponds, but also channels, wells, standposts or even movable reservoirs.

Subtype: dewpond, a pond constructed to maintain a supply of water in an area of high permeability.