On 3-7 June, the third international Private Land Conservation workshop was held by the European Private Land Conservation Network (ELCN) in Sighisoara, Romania. The workshop looked at examples of successful cooperative models for private land conservation. Participants discussed how conservationists, landowners, land users, public authorities, and other stakeholders can work together to foster private land conservation. Dessislava Dimitrova representing Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, was one of the invited speakers and explored the links between food culture and land conservation.
During the workshop, Dimitrova presented several Slow Food projects (Presidia, Ark of Taste, Chef Alliance and Earth Markets) and discussed their contribution to land conservation. By providing a few examples of the Presidia (the Ogiek Honey from Kenya, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil from Turkey, the Mishavine from Albania and the Karakachan sheep from Bulgaria), she demonstrated that the Slow Food Presidia could be a form of collective and sustainable management of land by private landowners as the Presidia aim to preserve land, habitats, and biodiversity through the production of artisan food.
“The link between food culture, traditions, and land conservation is immense. Many small-scale quality products are threatened by industrial agriculture, environmental degradation, and homogenization. What we try to do with the Ark of Taste, another very successful project of Slow Food, is closely related to land management. The Ark of Taste works to preserve various products, foods, animal breeds or insects, and by doing so, it helps to preserve the land,” said Dimitrova.
She also presented the Terra Madre Balkans network as an intriguing place for future interventions and a hot spot of food biodiversity and food culture that are threatened by globalization and climate change.
Frank Vassen, from the European Commission, Environment Directorate-General, underlined the need for a multifaceted policy approach to nature conservation and discussed the Natura 2000 sites, a Europe-wide ecological network of nature conservation areas which represent a collective approach to sustainable land management. He noted that in this respect, traditional farming and stockbreeding methods, and local breeds and varieties substantially contribute to the overall goal of achieving a collective approach to nature conservation. The Natura 2000 initiative is at the heart of the EU nature conservation policy: the Birds and Habitats Directives which provide a legal framework binding for all Member-States for the protection of birds and habitats.
The ELCN is an initiative of conservation organizations and land user groups to advance private land conservation in Europe. Slow Food is certain that collaboration with various and international organizations working on sustainable land management and conservation of biodiversity at different levels strengthens Slow Food’s role and expertise in the field of food culture and sustainable management of biological resources.