Landcare activities support responsible land management and sustainable agriculture practices while preserving semi-natural and man-made landscapes on private, public and communal land. Landcare associations promote cooperate nature conservation for resilient and biodiverse ecosystems by closely cooperating on a voluntary basis with land users, farmers, local communities, nature conservation organisations, political authorities and decision-makers.
The following sections describe how Landcare has evolved in Germany, at European level and worldwide, how these movements are connected and how they are working today.
What is Landcare Europe?
In Germany, 197 local Landcare associations (LCAs) work together with farmers, nature conservationists and local communities to preserve and care for our cultural heritage landscapes that have evolved over centuries.
Landcare Germany (DVL) is the umbrella organisation for 197 regional Landcare associations (LCAs) in Germany. These non-governmental organisations implement nature conservation measures together with local farmers, nature conservation organisations and municipalities on a regional level. These interest groups work together with LCAs on a voluntary and equitable basis.
Subsistence farming and other agricultural activities over the past centuries have shaped a diverse semi-natural, cultural landscapes with mountain meadows, rough pastures, hedges and orchards. Today, LCAs implement measures for integrated and sustainable land management in many rural areas of Germany by bringing together different stakeholders.
The goal is to protect endangered biodiversity, restore healthy ecosystems and re-create biotope networks while supporting sustainable regional agricultural development.
Local Landcare Associations (LCAs)
LCAs usually work at county or district level. LCA coordinators develop on-the-ground nature conservation projects aligned with the specific landscape type. Their work includes financial calculations, handling of funding requirements and scientific evaluation. They apply for (government) funds and monitor project implementation and results.
On-the-ground measures are implemented by local farmers. LCA coordinators are training the farmers in customised agricultural practices that preserve biodiversity. This combines traditional knowledge with scientific findings. At the same time, farmers are able to generate a sustainable income from such landscape conservation activities and maintain their farms with their biological and structural diversity.
The key factor success is the close cooperation with farmers, local communities, nature conservation groups and government agencies. The LCAs in Germany work with around 10,000 farmers, more than 2,000 local communities and 1,200 nature conservation NGOs. They generate around 20 million Euros per year for practical projects on the ground.
As part of this commitment, LCAs also initiate sustainable regional development and bring together regional stakeholders in rural areas. They help farmers to market their quality products such as apple juice or lamb. We call these products also "nature conservation products" because they produce biodiversity as side effect. As soon as regional marketing starts, an increase in cash flow can be observed on the local market.
In the early 2000s, the exchange between DVL and Landcare Australia, where a Landcare approach has also evolved since the 1980s, started a cooperation at international level. In recent years, the global Landcare movement has continued to grow, and many organisations have joined the worldwide network Landcare.
On 19th October 2010, the international alliance for the Satoyama Initiative was introduced to the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya.
Satoyama promotes the idea of "harmony between man and nature" and implies sustainable development and management of natural resources in landscapes that have been shaped by the local people for a long time.
The goal of the alliance is to work together to use these highly human-influenced spaces in a sustainable way. This includes agrobiodiversity - the diversity of crops and animals as well as the diversity of wild plants and animals in agricultural landscapes.
Besides nature, mankind is at the centre of the Satoyama initiative. So Satoyama promotes a common basis for nature and the living of local people. This idea is very similar to the vision of the Landcare associations in Germany. Therefore, DVL is one of the two European founding members of the initiative.
In early 2016, the Satoyama Initiative published the Satoyama Initiative Thematic Review Vol. 1 "Enhancing knowledge of better Management of Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes". DVL contributed an article on German Landcare Associations with examples from the Landcare Association Central Black Forest.
Landscapes for People, Food and Nature
In March 2012 the Forum on Landscapes for People, Food and Nature (LPFN) took place at ICRAF in Nairobi. The LPFN hosted experts from all over the world to discuss how an integrated landscape approach can be developed and implemented in policy and on the ground. The DVL presented its experiences from Germany as well as the organisational structure of the LCA. Several working groups contributed to the "Call to Action" for Rio+20 and the general "Action and Advocacy Strategy".
Cooperation with Landcare Australia
Landcare Australia and Landcare Germany were founded at around the same time and with a similar approach in the 1980s, without them even knowing about each other. A personal contact to Australia finally brought the two organisations together. Although the natural background in both countries is different, there are many similarities in the organisations.
The article "Landcare with German eyes" by Beate Krettinger, published in Australia in 2002, can be found in the sidebar.
In September 2011, Landcare Facilitator Brett de Hayr came to Germany to discuss some key issues and visit some project sites of German LCAs.
In 2012 Beate Krettinger attended the National Landcare Conference in Sydney and gave a presentation on Landcare in Germany. During her stay in Australia, she had the opportunity to meet and discuss with some Australian Landcare groups.
The international Landcare networks – the Secretariat for International Landcare (SILC), Australian Landcare International (ALI) and Landcare International (LI) have united to form Global Landcare in October 2020.
Landcare Germany (DVL) is one of the 16 founding members of Landcare International, which was founded in 2004 in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and was governed by an international steering committee of 16 members, represented by Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, the USA, Germany (DVL), Iceland, the Philippines, Uganda and South Africa. It represented a global network of individuals and institutions committed to the principles and practices of Landcare and its promotion worldwide.
The common goal is to exchange experiences and promote sustainable resource use with community-based land management organisations. Well-established organisations act as coaches to support the developing initiatives with their experience and knowledge.
European Project: "FireShepherds"
Erasmus + Project: FireShepherds
The Project Shepherds from the XXIst century: increasing professionalism in the management of extensive livestock, wildfires and landscape in the era of global change, also known as FireShepherds, is an Erasmus+ project that started at the beginning of 2019 with the aim to prepare next generations of Shepherds in the management of extensive livestock with wildfire prevention purposes. Partners from the consortium come from different European regions: Catalonia, Extremadura, Gran Canaria, Portugal, Germany and South France.
The project has its basis on different common problems that the project regions are currently facing: the decrease of shepherds working with animals in extensive regime and the large wildfires that visit us every summer. In the first case, silvopastoralism has always been a common practice in the Mediterranean region, being characterized for the presence of extensive livestock grazing in forest ecosystems. The exploitation of the vegetation of these areas brings a wide range of ecosystem services to society such as high-quality meat and milk, biomass extraction, cultural landscapes or wildfire prevention. However, the lack of chances to make silvopastoralism an economically sustainable activity has caused an important descent of exploitations. In the second case, wildfires are visiting Europe every summer with more intensity and more hectares burnt, like recent episodes in Portugal or Greece, compromising the safety of extinction services and neighbours, and the recovering of ecosystems, as well.
For the reasons explained above, it is very important to start managing the forest again, as it was done decades ago. To do so, a proper training of shepherds from the next generations is a key action if we want to achieve a fire resilient landscape.
The project was born with the aim of creating a cooperation network among European shepherds’ schools, shepherds and public administrations to exchange good practices in the development of silvopastoralism and wildfire resilient landscapes. More specifically, we pretend to design an elaborate a study module for shepherds schools about silvopastoralism, apart from sharing successful experiences from the different regions involved in the project. The consortium has a transnational perspective because of the increasing wildfires crisis and grazing regression that Europe is passing through.
The network that we want to create will be composed of academic partners, but also different non-academic bodies involved in the management of certain areas. These two visions collaborate to feed with contents the study module, and to exchange the results of different real experiences. At the same time, the study module will be part of shepherds schools study programs dealing with issues such as livestock management, wildfire risk, landscape change or public-private land management.
European Project: "European Biodiversity Corridors (EuroBIOCOR)"
Biotop Network Große Laber
Bringing biotope networks and climate protection to life! An integrated approach for people and nature with Landcare associations in Bavaria.
The project provides for measures in the districts of Kelheim and Regensburg in the valley of the Große Laber. This region is characterised by intensive agriculture, high livestock numbers and increasing settlement and local recreational pressure. The Große Laber is a river in Bavaria that flows into the Danube near Straubing. The 875 km² catchment area of the Große Laber is located in the Lower Bavarian hill country, between the Isar and the Danube, and includes parts of the Hallertau in the west and the Gäuboden in the northeast. In this selected catchment area of the Bavarian Danube, the project aims to advance the integrative implementation of species protection (promotion of threatened and endangered species and biodiversity in general), a promotion of the biotope connectivity as well as the restoration and conservation of water bodies/marshes with concrete activities within the framework of a case study.
The project aims to adjust, optimise and regulate the agricultural and other land use demands on the area. In doing so, measures are to be taken that can serve nature conservation and at the same time create added value for biodiversity, climate protection and society.
This project is part of an overall European concept to promote biotope connectivity and species protection. It is called EU Biodiversity Corridors (EuroBIOCOR) and is part of a large-scale study on the networking of European protected areas, so-called biodiversity corridors.
It follows the realization that the fragmentation of natural habitats endangers biodiversity. The Fondazione Capellino is the initiator and promoter of the project. The foundation was founded in 2018 and designs and supports projects to restore biodiversity and combat climate change. Scientific partners of the current project are the Institute for Regional Development of the Eurac Research Centre Bolzano and Wageningen University. GIS analyses are used to determine corridors for certain wildlife species in different regions of Europe. One of these is the Große Laber in Bavaria.
The local partners (e.g. landcare organisations (LPV)) carry out measures in these regions to improve landscape connectivity. This primarily involves the regional protected areas of the Natura 2000 network, an overarching network of protected areas in the European Union. The measures serve to protect endangered or typical habitats and species and include the development of corridors and the consideration of European connecting axes such as the Danube.
The aim of the project is to give positive signals for practical protection measures on the ground, which at the same time serve to benefit the local population.
Creation and protection of species-rich grassland areas and wetland biotopes typical of the floodplain (including small bodies of water for amphibians, dragonflies, etc.).
Optimise land management and biotope maintenance measures in accordance with the objectives of species, peatland and climate protection.
Raising awareness of native species and biotopes and their need for protection through targeted public relations work in order to increase the acceptance of measures (e.g. visitor guidance).
The German Association for Landcare (DVL) coordinates the project and accompanies the landcare associations in its implementation.
2023 - 2026