Maronesa is a breed of cattle from northern Portugal whose meat has protected status under the EUs Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) regime. The abandonment of mountain pasture areas for these cattle on common land in recent decades has resulted in increased growth of scrub (in particular heaths) and the loss of perennial good quality pastures. This not only reduces carbon storage in soils but also, together with weather trends, increases the risk of wildfires, which further exacerbate these problems.
The LIFE MARONESA project will tackle the abandonment of mountain pasture areas for Maronesa cattle on common land. It will set up an integrated framework to encourage climate action in the project area.
The specific objectives are as follows: Peer-to-peer knowledge transfer among cattle breeders (front-runner/follower model) and the local population; Monitoring, assessment and communication of socio-economic and climatic outputs at landscape and producer level, in the meat market and complementary sectors (e.g. tourism); Ensuring improved understanding and valuation of the economic and social benefits of undertaking the climate action work showcased; and Ensuring replication with increased engagement of local breeders and at a larger scale, and transfer to other areas.
LIFE MARONESA will help implement the EUs climate change adaptation strategy, by reducing the risk of wildfires and increasing the climatic resilience of agriculture. A planned technical report on a results-based payment scheme should be useful for the national body in charge of defining and implementing the EUs common agricultural policy. The project will also contribute to implementation of the EUs LULUCF Regulation, the Effort Sharing Regulation and the farm to fork strategy.
Expected results: Maintenance of medium-/long-term carbon stock of almost 4 300 tonnes by reducing fire risk and increased carbon sequestration of over 3 300 tonnes/yr of CO2 by soil through improved land use and management and cattle breeding practices; Avoidance of CO2 emissions by avoided energy consumption in a pilot distribution system for meat sales; Significant reduction of severe wildfire risk in the project area (over 7 250 ha) by reducing shrub biomass and increasing landscape mosaics; Increased resilience of soil and cover to erosion as well as improved water retention and infiltration on over 625 ha; Positive impactson the conservation of several wildlife species, including flora and fauna species protected by the Habitats Directive; At least 10 local breeders replicating the practices (over 6% of local breeders and 12% of local cattle); At least one transfer case engaging another breeders association prepared during the project and another after its end; Technical training of teams from private stakeholders (in agriculture and tourism services) for integrated action with agricultural adaptation; and Increased understanding among 100% of residents of the common land area and over 25% of municipality residents about the 'summer wildfire trap.