Co-Creating Knowledge for Action with Transhumant Herders in Spain

By Roads Less Travelled

Transhumance is a form of mobile livestock husbandry in which domestic livestock herds are regularly and repeatedly moved between defined seasonal pasture areas. In Spain, transhumance has a long history, potentially dating back to the Neolithic. A number of works have documented historic transhumance practices and the ecosystem services associated with 21st century transhumance.

Several gaps in knowledge remain, however, including documentation of present-day transhumant pastoralists’ traditional knowledge in use and ethnographic accounts of the current reality of transhumance in practice, grounded in the lived experiences and voices of transhumant herders. This study aims to address these gaps by conducting participant observation of transhumant movements and in-depth interviews with current and former transhumant herders.

The findings challenge the dominant narrative of the demise of transhumance in rural Spain, showing that transhumance remains a relevant and profitable practice in some regions.  

The knowledge that transhumant herders create and maintain through active use continues to develop and adapt in response to a dynamic social-ecological context. Despite continued relevance and use, transhumance faces significant challenges to long-term continuity. Following a short introductory chapter to provide context, the results are divided into 4 chapters as follows: chapter 2 transhumant knowledge in use: case studies of transhumance in Jaen and the central Pyrenees; chapter 3 benefits, costs and challenges of contemporary transhumance; chapter 4 abandonment and revitalization of transhumance in the western Aragonese Pyrenees; and chapter 5 a preliminary economic analysis of transhumance. Key findings from each chapter are summarized below, concluding with recommendations for policy, practice and future research.


Read more: Co-Creating Knowledge for Action with Transhumant Herders in Spain

Also available in Spanish: Co-creando Conocimiento para la Acción con Pastores Trashumantes en España