Summary Report

on vocational education & training for transhumance practitioners

Summary Report



The TRANSFARM project (Vocational education & training for transhumance practitioners), financed by the ERASMUS+ funding programme, aims to empower transhumance practitioners and rural entrepreneurs who wish to start or maintain transhumance practices and provide them with training material. At the same time, the project wishes to raise awareness on transhumance with a specific focus on its benefits for rural development, landscape management, and biodiversity. The TRANSFARM project started in December 2021 and will end in May 2024 and consists of seven partners across multiple European countries: the Institute for Research on European Agricultural Landscapes e.V. (DE), Hof und Leben (DE), OnProjects (ES), the Technical University in Zvolen (SK), the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GR), the European Landowners’ Organisation (BE), and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NO) – the latter coordinating the project. In addition, the project has three associated partners: The Polish Farm Advisory and Training Centre (PL), the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy (NO) and VetAgroSup (FR).

To be considered as transhumance within the TRANSFARM project, livestock has to be accompanied by people. To distinguish between the various types of transhumance practices, characteristics such as range, distance, and direction of elevational movement have been used. For example, vertical transhumance takes place between lowlands and mountain valleys and high-altitude mountain pastures, as can be observed in the Alps and Scandinavia. Horizontal transhumance refers to a continuous movement of livestock without large differences in altitude.

“Seasonal, long-distance movement of livestock between fixed pastures at varying distances to the permanent farm”
Definition of Transhumance (for definitions of terms see the glossary on the Transfarm website)

However, from a European perspective, transhumance encompasses a broad range of practices that resist clear-cut definition. More recently, landscape management has emerged as a prevailing purpose of transhumance, and an everincreasing use of modern means of transportation and technological tools (e.g., no fence technology through collars with GPS transmitters) have utterly diversified transhumance practices. Moreover, transitions to practices occur that comprise the movement of livestock among pastures as well as people who look after the livestock; however, the degree to which livestock is attended in person is decreasing due to technological advances. As one of the first steps of the TRANSFARM project, the partners compiled an overview about the current situation of transhumance in their respective countries into National Reports: France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Low Countries (including Belgium and the Netherlands), Norway, Slovakia, and Spain. These in-depth reports are available from the project’s website.

As an addition to the National Reports, this Summary Report collates information from the Reports into an overview across national borders with the goal to present the state transhumance practices across a continental scale, in contrast to a national scale. The information presented in this report follows a structure similar for all National Reports and answers a set of questions agreed upon by the project partners to ensure consistency. Topics covered include the current extent of and awareness about transhumance, educational offers, as well as challenges for transhumance practitioners. This Summary Report provides information about transhumance in a very condensed form. Interested readers are asked to refer to the section ‘Literature and additional resources’ and the National Reports for more countryspecific information. Moreover, text boxes will be added to the online version of this Summary Report to provide even more additional information.


Current areas of transhumance

Transhumance is currently practised in all project countries, apart from the Low Countries, which will therefore no longer be considered in the remaining part of the report.

Summer pastures (where livestock graze) are located in mountainous areas as well as in other areas of marginal crop production (e.g., salt marshes and heathlands), whereas winter pastures are commonly located in the lowlands.

More recently urban and peri-urban (adjacent to cities) areas have been taken into use for transhumance.

Figure 1. Current extent of transhumance in Europe in the countries considered in the project. Currently no transhumance is practised in Belgium & the Netherlands.

Urban transhumance

Urban transhumance (or eco-pastoralism) comprises livestock grazing of urban areas and peri-urban areas. In France, this way of managing urban green spaces in an environmentally friendly manner is increasingly used by municipalities but also companies, for example, in the region of Paris. Urban transhumance supports awareness raising since it brings transhumance – typically occurring in rural and often remote areas – to areas where many people live.


In central and southern European partner countries, the practice of transhumance started already in the Neolithic, which is the era when farming began. In contrast, in Slovakia & Hungary, it was first introduced during the Middle Ages. Throughout history, transhumance increased and decreased based on country- and region-specific events. However, what unites all the countries is the current decreasing trend of transhumance practices in the modern era.

6500 – 3200 BC
Transhumance dates back to the Neolithic era
Bronze Age
3200 – 1200 BC
Iron Age*
1200 – 800 BC
*also called Greek Dark Age
Classical Antiquity
800 BC - 324 AD
Writers like Heredotus, Aristotle and Aeschylus mention transhumance in their writings (c. 500 - 300 BC)

Roman: period (146 – 330 AD): Extensive rangelands created & transhumance developed; discouragement of arable livestock farming due to political crises
Middle Ages
324 – 1453 AD
Extensive rangelands created & transhumance developed
Ottoman period
1453 – 1821
Nomadic system of animal husbandry were developed and the creation of “Tsiflikia”
During 20th century
Grassland turned into fields, loss of especially winter rangelands

Greek-Turkish war (1919-1922): Recruitment of transhumance practitioners

After WWII: decline of transhumance due to migration both internal and abroad
Modern Era
Recently, there has been a decrease in the number of farms but an increase in the number of animals per farm.
6000 - 2300 BC
Archeological evidence of transhumance in Northern Italy dates back to the Prehistoric Age (i.e., before written sources are available)
Bronze Age
2300 - 950 BC
Iron Age
950 - 753 BC
Ancient Rome
753 BC - 476 AD
Transhumance practiced during the Roman Era in Southern and Northern Italy

Evidence of transhumance practice from 500 - 300 BC in central and southern Italy

111 BC: Lex agraria (agrarian law): Regulates the use of public pastures and roads where livestock was transported
Middle Ages
476 – 1492 AD
Since the 1100s: Transhumance and connected activities get a key role in political and economic decisions in Northern Italy

1330: Transhumance customs regulated by local statutes were written down

1447: 'Royal Customs of Transport of Sheep': Turns a subsistence activity gradually into a market- oriented production in Southern Italy
Modern Era
1492 -
1809: Napoleon’s new law, the ‘Royal Custom of Transport of Sheep’

1820: Editto delle chiudende (enclosure act) in Sardinia

1856: Abolition of the ancient right of free grazing in private fields after the harvest in Northern Italy

1865: Privatization of public land used for transhumance - with the exception of shelters and transhumance routes - in Southern Italy

Decline of transhumance: Beginning of 1900s, number of sheep and shepherds reduced by almost two thirds compared to the 1700s in Southern Italy
Since about 1950s strong decline of all types of transhumance

Recently increasing number of livestock involved in transhumance in some areas
6000 - 2200 BC
7000 years ago: Existence of a form of transhumance in the Southern Alps documented by archaeological findings

5000 years ago: Seasonal movement between plains and mountains in the Alps and the Provence area
Bronze Age
2200 - 800 BC
Iron Age
800 - 100 BC
Roman Gayl
100 BC - 476 AD
Middle Ages
476 - 1453 AD
Since the 12th century: Sheep transhumance from highland pastures to plains documented (Massif Central & Vosges)

13th century: Large Monasteries (e.g., in Marseille) drive their livestock from plains to mountains

Since 14th century until 19th century: All large sheep flocks in the south of France involved in transhumance
Modern Era
1492 -
During the 19th century: Sheep transhumance reaches its peak but declines after 1850; fall in the wool price, increasing demand for meat due to urbanization, change to meat production and strong decline in sheep production

French sheep flock at minimum number in 1950, new decline since 1980s
6000 - 2300 BC
Sheep remains constitute the main archaeozoological evidence for the presence of Early Neolithic human groups in the highlands of the Southern Pyrenees, estimated to be approximately 7300 years old
Iron Age
800 BC – 218 BC
Great importance of livestock for the pre-Roman people of deep Iberia, particularly with regard to the Meseta groups, such as the Vetons and the Vacceans
Roman Hispania
218 BC - 410 AD
Populations mainly located in villages except those in Baetica and Levante; cattle raising concentrated in the population centers

Allusions to cattle wealth of the Peninsular plateau (in Lusitania and Celtiberia)

Historical evidence of transhumance scanty and ambiguous; however; some sources indicate cases of cities holding lands in eminently pastoral areas and the continuous presence of emigrants from certain areas in complementary grazing area

Classical sources - notably Livy - are open to a «pastoral» interpretation
Middle Ages
410 AD - 1492
410 Lex Visigothorum (Visigothic Law): Guaranteed free transit of herds and animals on public roads and established a procedure for the recovery of lost beasts that has been considered a precedent for what in the future would become the Mesta.

711 Muslim conquest: Utilization very much focused on sheep.

Transhumance is maintained with the previous structures. Genetic improvement is produced by the Berber population; the Merino breed appears.

Reconquest wars (722-1492): Interrupt certain movements across borders

1273: Castile king creates a professional association of merino breeders

Merino sheep husbandry greatest during late Middle Ages and Modern Era
Modern Era
1492 - 1814
Merino sheep husbandry greatest during late Middle Ages and Modern Era

1500s: up to 5 million heads of livestock would travel along transhumance routes

1760 ban on export of Merino sheep lifted
Contemporary Era
1814 - present
Late 1800s: railway lines connecting the South and the North were built and livestock was transported by train

Transhumance routes get out of use

Winter pastures are in use until mid- to late June instead of early or mid-May, this may have resulted in overgrazing

After WWII: New fibers affecting profitability of wool production, industrialization and following rural exodus make transhumance a marginal activity
4000 - 1800 BC
Late Neolithic (2400 – 1800 BC): Early traces of pastoral use of mountain areas but no evidence to determine if this is linked to seasonal farming
Bronze Age
1800 – 500 BC
Establishment of seasonal farming maybe already before Iron Age
Iron Age
500 BC – 1050 AD
Establishment of seasonal farming

Expansion during the Viking Age (800 – 1050 AD)
Middle Ages
1050 – 1537 AD
Expansion in the beginning of the Middle Ages

1300s: Black Death, retraction of agriculture, abandonment of seasonal farming
Modern Era
1537 -
1500s, 1600s, 1700s: New expansion; seasonal farms could be turned back into permanent farms

Largest number of seasonal farms in use in 1850s

Seasonal farming declining after 1850
5000 - 1900 BC
Bronze Age
1900 BC - 700 BC
Iron Age
700 BC – 0
Celtic Tribes
0 -100 AD
Roma Era
100 – 400 AD
Middle Ages
400 - 1500 AD
During feudalism (800-1850): Common farms were established and a system of collective grazing

1200s: Transhumance started with the Wallachian Colonization

1400-1800s: Transhumance intensively practiced
Modern Era
1500 AD -
End of 1800s: Sheep breeding began to decline; until 1920 number of sheep decreased by four fifths

1935: Revival of sheep breeding with the establishment of the State Sheep and Woolen Institute

1950s strong decline in number of sheep and transhumance after two world wars and Communism reforms

2021: Number of sheep has halved since 1990
6000 - 3000 BC
Bronze Age
3000 – 900 BC
Iron Age
900 BC - 100 AD
Roman Era
100 – 476 AD
Middles Ages
476 - 1500 AD
1363 Transhumance mentioned for the first time, movement between Transylvania and Wallachia, however transhumance was not widespread
Modern Era
1500 AD -
17th century: Transhumance boomed; Eastern Carpathian Mountains used as summer pastures, winter pastures in Banat, along the rivers of Moldova or rarely in the Hungarian lowlands.

After 1718, main areas of winter pastures became Dobrogea, the Bărăgan Lowland, the Valley of Prut and Seret

Second half of 18th century, sheep herds of Transylvania spend the winter east or south of Carpathians

19th century: Transhumance became difficult due to change of ownership of trans-Capathian mountains, growing number of settlements, in 1864 with the Romanian agricultural reform, the regulation of the River Danube, and the cereal boom of Valachia

In 1884 still 615000 sheep grazing the Carpathians
The Austrian-Hungarian-Romanian customs war (1886 - 1891) ended the traditional form of transhumance of people of Transylvania

Until beginning of 20th century : Winter pastures for lowland transhumance disappeared due to river regulations and subdivisions of fields; summer pastures existed between 1880 and 1960

Landscape management as important purpose of transhumance


The most common types of livestock used for transhumance across the project partner countries that have been identified are sheep, goats, and cattle;

To a minor degree, horses and buffaloes have also been identified as being involved in transhumance;

In some countries, accompanying animals are used for transport (donkeys) and protection (dogs). These animals are used for transhumance practices and are not the animals being shepherded;

In several countries, both regional and local breeds are used for transhumance (Figure 2). In the long-term, this helps maintain a diversity of different breeds.

Figure 2. Types of local and regional livestock breeds used for transhumance practices in Europe; background map

Table 2. Estimated number of livestock involved in transhumance per project partner country.

Countries France Germany Greece Hungary Italy Norway Slovakia Spain
Number of heads of livestock

Alps & Provence: 770,000 sheep,

90,000 cattle,

15,000 goats,

2000 horses

Jura: 35,000 cattle

50,000 cattle,

115,000 sheep

60,000 cattle,

934,000 sheep & goats


266,000 sheep & goats

215,000 cattle


365,000 cattle (intra- community)

45,000 cattle (inter- community; outward)

30,000 cattle (inter- community; return)

450,000 sheep (intra- community)

50,000 sheep (inter- community)

Number of heads of livestock (%)
c. 22

< 1 of the cattle

c. 8 of the sheep

< 6.5 of the cattle

c. 7.5 of the sheep & goat flocks


2.2 sheep & goats

3.6 cattle & buffaloes


6 cattle

3 sheep

Local and regional livestock breeds in France

A particularly large number of local and regional breeds are used for transhumance in France. For example, in the Alpes dairy cattle breeds such as Tarentaise cattle, Abondance cattle and Montbéliarde are used. The breeds produce milk known for its cheese-making qualities. In the Pyrenees, Blonde d’Aquitaine is a common cattle breed used for meat production. In addition to the rich variety of cattle breeds a number of different sheep breeds occur in France. Only in the Massif Central ten endemic sheep breeds graze. In the Pyrenees the breeds Basco-béarnaise, Manech Tête rousse and Tête noire are used for milk production, the breeds Rouge du Roussillon, Castillonaise, Tarasconnaise, Aure et Campan, Barégeoise and Lourdaise for meat production.

Transhumance practitioners

A range of transhumance practitioners have been found; farmers (male and female), members of the farmers’ families, hired shepherds and dairymaids/men (responsible for milking and processing of milk) (Figure 3);

As a whole, transhumance practitioners are men – shepherds and dairymen, with Norway being the only exception where dairymaids are far more common than dairymen;

In France, an increasing trend of female herders has been identified;

In addition, there is an increasing trend in the share of transhumance practitioners coming from abroad, due to immigration (among other factors);

However, there is a significant lack of centralised, consistent, and standardised statistics of transhumance practitioners across the continent (Table 3).

Figure 3. Examples of transhumance practitioners; background map

Table 3. Transhumance practitioners and farms or seasonal farms involved in transhumance across selected TRANSFARM project partner countries.

Countries France Germany Greece Hungary Italy Norway Slovakia Spain
Number of transhumance practitioners
c. 20,000 shepherds
2,600 or less farmers
c. 100 - 500 practictioners
> 8,000 practicioners
Farms/seasonal farms involved in transhumance
c. 60,000 farms

3,300 sheep & goat farms

940 cattle farms

780 seasonal farms
8400 farms
Herders in Greece

In Greece transhumance practitioners traditionally belong to three main ethnic groups Vlachoi, Sarakatsanaioi and Koupatsaraioi. From the 17th century onwards, the Vlachs divided into two groups. One group kept traditional transhumance practices while the other group became permanently settled. The latter group got the name Koupatsaraioi. The Sarakatsanaioi were first mentioned in 1847 describing transhumance sheep and goat farmers who established their sheepfolds outside villages. They did not have a permanent residence but erected ephemeral building structures and covered large distances with their livestock.

Kinds of transhumance

Current transhumance practices cover a broad range of movement patterns across the continent (Figure 4).

The most common movement is from low-elevation areas in winter to high-elevation areas in summer due to limited space in lowland areas (among other reasons). Pastures in high elevations are due to climatic conditions only available during summer.

However it is interesting to highlight the significant differences in elevational range and distances covered among countries and regions.

Overall, movement occurs via vehicles (e.g., lorries, trailers), however there is still a presence of movement on foot

Figure 4. Types of transhumance movements occurring in the different countries in Europe.
N.B: if livestock is transported by vehicles the movement to the summer pastures is not occurring in several steps.

Travel distances in Greece

Travel distances can vary a lot within one country as the example of Greece shows. Small local movements occur as well as movements up to 50 km and medium range travels over 50 and up to 100 km. Movements up to 100 km are mainly carried out in the central and western part of the country and in Peloponnese. Long distance movements of more than 100 km and up to 200 km are typical for the eastern part of Thessaly and occur frequently in Aitoloakarnania, in the western part of Central Greece. Even very long-distance travels of more than 200 km and up to 350 km occur, typical for the central part of the country to the western and northern part of Greece.

Movement patterns in France

France is an example of a country with an especially large variety of movement patterns occurring in different regions. A vertical movement with cattle during summer is, for example, common in the Alps where the summer grazing starts at least before 15 July and ends after 15 September but may be extended as long as after 15 October. Travel distances are commonly short; however, the movement between the Provence and the Northern Alps covers a distance of about 500 km. There is a trend to keep productive animals rather at lower altitudes, thereby reducing grazing at higher altitudes. Winter movements with cattle and sheep from high altitude areas to the plain occur, for example, south of the Massif Central where several herds of the Causses and Cévennes area move to the lowlands to graze vineyards and shrubland areas. In the Pyrenees a similar movement to the plains occur during winter. In addition to these rather vertical movements, horizontal movements on the plain occur in areas such as the salt meadows of the Bay of the Somme or Mont Saint Michel.

Purpose & products

The main purpose of transhumance is to make use of grazing resources for livestock. Transhumance practitioners provide a range of different products: milk and associated products (e.g., cheese and yoghurt) as well as meat and associated products (e.g., sausages).

However, it is interesting to point out that the historically valuable wool has decreased in value. Landscape management is becoming an increasingly important purpose of transhumance occurring, for example in protected areas (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Purposes of and major products resulting from transhumance practices in selected European countries; background map

Wool production in Spain

The production of wool has historically been an important business for transhumance practitioners. The Merino breed producing high quality wool was established in Spain during the Middle Ages. Export of Merino sheep was forbidden until the ban was lifted in 1760. In Spain the Merino husbandry was greatest during the late Middle Ages and Modern Era. After WWII the introduction of new fibers has affected the profitability of wool production. Even for the highest quality wool the income may be too small to cover the production costs and herders may even be obliged to pay for the disposal of the wool.

Landscape management

In several TRANSFARM project countries landscape management has been added as a new purpose of transhumance. To which degree landscape management is important for transhumance practitioners differs. For example, in Slovakia transhumance is very important for nature conservation management in protected areas. Regular grazing prevents mountain pastures from becoming overgrown with shrubs and trees and helps to preserve grazing-dependent species. Also, in Hungary where most of the current transhumance activities are carried out in protected areas, transhumance for management purposes is very important. National park directorates keep herds to manage grasslands for nature conservation purposes. In contrast, in Italy, transhumance is not allowed to be carried out in protected areas, as for example, along riverbeds.

Values & meanings

Historically, across all partner countries, transhumance has been an important socio- economic production system. While income from transhumance and transhumance’s importance for practitioners’ self-sufficiency has declined in recent times, transhumance provides significant cultural heritage values.

Nationally and internationally recognized tangible and intangible cultural heritage provides new economic opportunities for rural communities in terms of tourism. Transhumance is also important for maintaining tangible and intangible cultural heritage, attractive landscapes, and biodiversity.

Transhumance provides important knowledge on how to utilise marginal resources and produce high-quality food at the same time. This is crucial in modern times and for future perspectives since there is an increase in demand for locally produced high-quality food.

Figure 6. Identified values created by transhumance practitioners in Europe over time.

Cultural heritage values

In Italy, the tratturi – ancient droves – connect Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, and Basilicata. The droves played a key role in the history of the landscape. In the past their size and way of use was regulated, and rural and urban settlements were developed among them. Laws to protect the tratturi exist since 1939. The recognition of transhumance as UNESCO Intangible Heritage is strongly supported by local action groups interested in the preservation and maintenance of transhumance practices. In Norway, a broad range of traditions are linked to transhumance practices such as the movement of livestock and processing of milk. These include selection criteria for the cow to carry the (largest) bell, chants or short songs to call the livestock for milking and believes about non-human creates such as gnomes and goblins.

Transhumance landscapes and their values

Transhumance and related practices, such as grazing, shape landscapes in a distinct way. Transhumance removes and prevents shrubs and trees from establishing and creates and helps to preserve biologically diverse landscapes. Pastures grazed by transhumance herds hold one of the highest floristic diversities in Europe, and richness of other species such as insects and mammals is dependent on grazing activities. The removal of trees and shrubs reduces the amount of fuel available for forests fires and thereby their intensity. Controlling fires prevents soil degradation since forest fires may lead to severe soil erosion. Decline of transhumance practices result in comprehensive landscape changes. In Norway, areas opened-up by transhumance regrow and plant species dependent on disturbance by livestock decline. Elements of cultural heritage such as foundation walls of formers buildings become less visible and regrowing landscapes are more difficult to navigate and less attractive for recreational activities and not at least for future grazing.

Legal situation & funding

For the most part, farmers, shepherds, or companies own the livestock that is used for transhumance.

Pastures are owned by a wide range of different stakeholders: official public bodies (e.g., state, municipalities), communities, farmers, and other private landowners.

Transhumance practitioners, as a whole, receive funding and support in line with other agricultural practitioners, such as payments through the Common Agricultural Policy and compensation payments for livestock killed by F predators (Figure 7).


Figure 7. Availability of funding in TRANSFARM project partner countries specifically targeted at transhumance activities.

In some countries, landscape management is remunerated (e.g., Germany and Hungary), whereas in others it is not. In some countries transhumance practitioners receive funding targeted at transhumance

Transhumance associations

In France, transhumance activities are mainly organized by collective pastoral associations: pastoral land associations and pastoral groups. They bring together landowners, organize maintenance, soil protection and technical equipment, manage number of tourists, etc. In Norway, the Norwegian seasonal farming organization aims at promoting seasonal farming and increasing knowledge among its members. Moreover, it tries to impact the framework within which transhumance practitioners develop their business. These types of associations help to increase awareness about transhumance and to make transhumance visible.

Vocational education, training offers & training gaps

In all countries, informal acquisition of knowledge through learning from other practitioners has been identified as an important way for transhumance practitioners to get access to know-how and skill development.

The degree to which vocational education and training is available varies strongly among countries (Figure 8).

In several countries courses providing different kinds of skill development within, for example, herding, hygiene regulations or cheese production are offered by private and public organisations; however few countries offer comprehensive education by one specific organisation.

Figure 8. Types of formal education of and on transhumance practices offered across selected European countries. N.B.: learning from other practitioners is an important way to acquire knowledge in all countries.

  • Training at training centres
  • Training through shepherd organisations
  • Training offers at two High schools
  • Private shepherd schools
  • Courses on transhumance related topics
  • No complete transhumance education
  • Offers through some secondary schools and at seasonal farms
  • No formalised VET offer
  • Recent attempts to provide offer
  • No specific VET offer
  • Different educational initiatives on related topics
  • No formalised VET offer
  • Attempts to provide offers and different educational initiatives by shepherd organizations and associations
  • No formalised VET offer
  • No formalised VET offer

Available knowledge

It has been found that the available knowledge on transhumance practices and to which degree it is easily available differs strongly among countries.

Examples of sources and/or locations for available information have however been consistent with regard to museums, film festivals, research activities, and folk festivals (Figure 9).

A general consensus amongst the project countries is that to increase the awareness on transhumance practices, the knowledge on the topic must be made more available to the general public.

Figure 9. Various means of transhumance knowledge transfer identified in the TRANSFARM project in selected European countries.


Individuals currently close to and/or linked to agricultural production, e.g., through their place of residence or family ties, have a higher awareness of transhumance than those entirely disconnected from agricultural production.

Based on the limited availability of data across the countries, to compare the degree to which the general public is aware of transhumance among the different countries is not possible, leading to difficulties in finding detailed trends.

In several countries, certain activities (Figure 10) are undertaken to raise awareness of transhumance, such as festivals that specifically celebrate the return of the livestock from the mountain pastures (e.g., in France), as well as ones that welcome visitors at seasonal farms.

Figure 10. Examples of identified activities that raise awareness of transhumance practices.

A noteworthy example of awareness raising is the inscription of transhumance on the UNESCO world heritage list as intangible cultural heritage in 2019.

Awareness-raising activities

Festivals related to transhumance activities help to increase awareness of transhumance. In Hungary, festivals, such as the sheep stew festival in Karcag help to make people aware of the cultural values of transhumance. In France, several film festivals are devoted in part or entirely to transhumance, and from the Provence to the Alps a number of shepherds’ and mountain pasture festivals are celebrated in the end of the spring. Most of them have been invented in the beginning of the 1990s.


Transhumance and the values transhumance practitioners produce are recognized to a small degree.

The number of transhumance practitioners is declining, resulting in a decrease in available workforce. This leads to a significantly lower chance of knowledge transfer, due to the fact that transhumance practitioners are the largest source of teachings in the practices.

Declining number of practitioners
Future econonic support and economic viability
Wolf predation
Access to water and grazing resources

Spain France

Norway Greece

Germany Slovakia


Spain France

Norway Slovakia

Germany Greece

Italy France Slovakia

France Slovakia

Competition with other types of land use in lowland areas

Spain France Italy

Figure 11. Identified main challenges for transhumance practices in selected European countries as part of the TRANSFARM project

Serious concerns about uncertainty of future economic support indicates that economic viability is an issue for transhumance practitioners and a deciding factor on whether or not they continue/begin practices. There is rising competition in the lowlands between transhumance practitioners who wish to utilise pasture land and urban and industrial developers. Significant shifts in the natural environment such as the return of the wolf and the impact of climate change on pastures and water supply poses threats and challenges the access to important resources. Other challenges highlighted in the National reports include fragmentation of land, drops in meat consumption, increases in larger-scale farming, and practical and logistical challenges.


In France, the return of the wolf – currently present in all mountain ranges used for transhumance, but especially in the Alps – is an important challenge for transhumance practitioners. One possibility to protect livestock against predation is the use of secure night pens for sheep. The use of such equipment limits grazing to areas where night pens can be established, and daily movements will be reduced to distances that allow to return to the pens for the night. The use of guard dogs is another option to protect herds against predation. However, conflicts with the use of mountain areas for recreational activities may occur. Dogs may attack hikers who (unknowingly) behave in ways that dogs perceive as a threat to their herds, e.g., getting too close or into a flock. To provide information to hikers is an important measure to avoid these types of conflict.

Conclusion & pathway forward

This report has clearly highlighted that transhumance enriches rural areas. It provides attractive and diverse landscapes, tangible and intangible heritage, high-quality food products, and it is an important part of living rural culture. However, declining numbers of transhumance practitioners has been highlighted as one of the main challenges to maintain and develop transhumance throughout the countries represented in the TRANSFARMproject. There is an important need to make the transhumance profession attractive enough to compete with other types of occupations in the rural sector. Thus raising awareness about transhumance and the needs of practitioners is important in this respect. For example, access to pastures needs to be secured, especially in the lowlands.The maintenance of transhumance seems to be challenged by worries about future economic support and viability, meaning that increased and secured economic incentives targeted at transhumance practitioners are important for the future of transhumance.

A declining number of transhumance practitioners has not only had an impact on the degree to which transhumance is practised but also on learning opportunities for practitioners. Transfer of knowledge among different generations of practitioners and learning from each other is as important in the present day as it was in the past. Therefore, to support platforms for knowledge exchange such as transhumance practitioners’ associations is essential to maintain and pass on knowledge. The number of educational offers and the degree to which they are institutionalised differ strongly among the partner countries. Making educational offers available will support knowledge exchange and learning and help to make the transhumance profession more attractive.

This report has shown that there is a broad range of transhumance practices occurring in the partner countries. To promote and raise awareness about transhumance and its values, it is important to support all different ways of practising transhumance. Finally, more knowledge about transhumance is needed especially in terms of providing and collecting data that is comparable across national borders, for example, knowledge about the awareness of transhumance and statistics such as the number of practitioners or heads of livestock involved in transhumance.

Literature & additional resources

This section provides a selection of references to literature about transhumance and other resources that can be used to get country- and place-specific information about transhumance.


Bele, B., Nielsen, V. K. S. N., Orejas, A. & Tejedo, J. A. R. 2021. Intangible cultural heritage of transhumance landscapes: their roles and values – examples from Norway, France and Spain. In: Bowden, M. & Herring, P. (eds.) Transhumance. Papers from the International Association of Landscape Archaeology Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2018. Archaeopress, Oxford, pp. 111-128.

Daugstad, K., Mier, M. F. & PeñaChocarro, L. 2014. Landscapes of transhumance in Norway and Spain: Farmers’ practices, perceptions, and value orientations. Nor. J. Geogr. 68, 248-258.

Potthoff, K., Smrekar, A., Hribar, M. Š. & Urbanc, M. 2020. The past and perspective development of pasturing and tourism in the mountains: Insights from Norway and Slovenia. Geografski vestnik 92, 81-99.


Intangible cultural heritage inventory sheet, Practices and know-how of transhumance in France (Fiche d’inventaire du patrimoine culturel immatériel, les pratiques et savoir-faire de la transhumance en France), 2020.

De Roincé C., Seegers J., Étude prospective du pastoralisme français dans le contexte de la prédation exercée par le loup, 2020.

ProjetPastoM, Propositions partagées pour améliorer les soutiens à l’agropastoralisme de montagne, Paris, Réseau rural national, 2018.

UICN France, Panorama des services écologiques fournis par les milieux naturels en France – volume 2.4 : les écosystèmes montagnards. Paris, France, 2014.

Gelin M, Quelles formes de transhumance dans les élevages européens, et quels enjeux (patrimoniaux, socio-économiques, écologiques, politiques) associés ? Synthèse bibliographique dans le cadre de la formation Systèmes d’élevage de l’Institut Agro – Montpellier SupAgro, 2020.


Blaschka, A., Ringdorfer, R., Huber, R. Guggenberger, T. & P. Haslgrübler 2014. Almrekultivierung durch gezielte Beweidung mit Schafen – Ergebnisse aus dem Almlammprojekt. 

David Bollier & Silke Helfrich (Ed.) (2015): Patterns of communing. The commons strategy Group.

Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung BLE (2021) Statistisches Jahrbuch über Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten 2021

Czerkus Gunther, Evelyn Mathias and Andreas Schenk; Bundesverband Berufsschä̈fer (German Association of Professional Shepherds) (2020); Accounting for pastoralists in Germany

Deutscher Bundestag (2019): Bedeutung der Wanderschä̈ferei für die Biodiversitä̈t in Deutschland. Antwort der Bundesregierung auf eine Anfrage der Grünen. Drucksache 19/12778

Gerken, Bernd & Martin Görner (eds) (2000): Landscape Development with Large Hervibores. New Models and Practical Experiences. (Neue Modelle zu Maßnahmen der Landschaftsentwicklung mit großen Pflanzenfressern. Praktische Erfahrungen bei der Umsetzung. In: Natur- und Kulturlandschaft. Band 4. Brakel.

Herder-City Hungen.

Jacobeit, W. 1987 Schafhaltung und Schäfer in Zentraleuropa bis zum Beginn des 20. Jh.

 Luick, R. (2004): Transhumance in Germany. Pp. 137–54 in: R.G.H. Bunce et al. (eds.). Transhumance and biodiversity in European mountains. Report of the EUFP5 project TRANSHUMOUNT (EVK2CT200280017). IALE publication series No 1.

Treiber, R. 2019 Gewöhnlicher Wacholder und Feld-Mannstreu als Zeigerpflanzen historischer Beweidung im Kaiserstuhl und am südlichen Oberrhein. Available:


Ragkos A., 2022, Transhumance in Greece: Multifunctionality as an Asset for Sustainable Development. In Letizia Bindi (ed) Grazing Communities: Pastoralism on the Move and Biocultural Heritage Frictions (Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology, 29). Pp 23 -43.

National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece. Transhumant Livestock Farming. Available online (accessed on 15 Decemper 2022).

Chatzimichali Α., 2007. Sarakatsanoi, 2nd ed.; Angeliki Chatzimichali Foundation: Athina, Greece (In Greek).


Paládi-Kovács A. 1965: A keleti palócok pásztorkodása. Műv. Hagy. VII. Debrecen

Paládi-Kovács A. 1993a: A magyar állattartó kultúra korszakai. Kapcsolatok, változások és történeti rétegek a 19. század elejéig. Budapest

Petercsák V. 1979: Közbirtokosságok, legeltetési társulatok a Hegyközben. HOMÉ XVII–XVIII. 261–280. Miskolc


Aromatario M. M., 1992, Transumanza e civiltà sannitica, in «Civiltà della transumanza». Atti della Giornata di Studi (Castel del Monte, 4 agosto 1990), Archeoclub d’Italia – Sezione di Castel del Monte (AQ).

Bindi L., 2019, “Bones” and pathways. Transhumant tracks, inner areas and cultural heritage, in “Il capitale culturale Studies on the Value of Cultural Heritage”, 19, Università di Macerata.

Cammerino A. R. B., Biscotti S., De Iulio R., Monteleone M, 2018, The sheep tracks of transhumance in the Apulia region (South Italy): steps to a strategy of agricultural landscape conservation, in “Applied Ecology And Environmental Research”, available online.

Liechti K., Biber J. P., 2016, Pastoralism in Europe: characteristics and challenges of highland-lowland transhumance, in Rev. Sci. Tech. Off. Int. Epiz., 35 (2), 561-575.

Motivazione della pratica agricola “La Transumanza”, 2017, Registro nazionale dei Paesaggi Rurali, delle Pratiche Agricole e delle Conoscenze Tradizionali, available online: 06. La Transumanza (

UNESCO, Nomination file no. 01470 for inscription in 2019 on Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Fourth Session, Bogotà Colombia.


Bjørlo, B. & Løvberget, A. I. 2021. Beitebruk og seterdrift [Online]. Statistics Norway. Available online [Accessed 15.08.2022].

Bunger, A. A. & Haarsaker, V. 2020. Færre og større melkebruk — hva skjer med seterdrifta? Oslo: AgriAnalyse AS.

Fønnebø, R. 1988. Langs Nordmannsslepene over Hardangervidda. Universitetsforlaget, Oslo, 229 pp.

Gudheim, H. 2013. Kinning, bresting og ysting i Valdres sett i norsk og internasjonal samanheng. Mat & Kultur AS, Vangsnes, 548 pp.

Reinton, L. 1955. Sæterbruket i Noreg I. Sætertypar og driftsformer. H. Aschehoug & Co., Oslo, Norway, 481 pp.

Sevatdal, H. & Grimstad, S. 2003. Norwegian Commons: history, status and challenges. In: Berge, E. & Carlsson, L. (eds.) Commons: Old and New. Department of Sociology and Political Science, NTNU, Trondheim, pp. 93-132.

Solheim, S. 1952. Norsk Sætertradisjon. H. Aschehoug & Co., Oslo, 708 pp.

Stensgaard, K. 2019. Hvordan står det til på setra? Registrering av setermiljøer i perioden 2009–2015. NIBIO, Ås, 175 pp.

Strand, B. & Ødegård, N. T. (eds.) 2006. Stølsvidda. Ei bok om Ulnes og Svennes sameier. Stølsviddeprosjektet i Valdres, Valdres, 214 pp.



Antón Burgos (2007) Trashumancia y turismo en España. Cuadernos de Turismo, nº 20, (2007); pp. 27-54

Estévez, Á. B. (2017). Tras la huella de la trashumancia. In Los Santos de Maimona en la historia VIII y otros estudios de la Orden de Santiago (pp. 69-96). Asociaciónhistórico-cultural Maimona.

Fernández-Giménez and Ritten Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice (2020) 10:10

Klein, J. (2013). The Mesta: A Study in Spanish Economic History, 1273-1836, Cambridge, MA and London, England: Harvard University Press.

MAFE -Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment-(2013). Transhumance White Paper

Zabalza, S., Linares, A., Astrain C., (2020) identificación de barreras y oportunidades en la cadena de valor del ovino – caprino extensivo.