Carpathians Unite: Sheep Herding Revival

Carpathians Unite:  Sheep Herding Revival

Source of funding


Name of client/donor

National Foundation for Environmental Protection of Poland

Overall project value

EUR 155,000


January 2012 – December 2016

Beneficiary countries


Number of staff


REC Poland was one of the implementing partners in the project “Carpathians Unite – A Mechanism for Consultation and Cooperation for the Implementation of the Carpathian Convention”. The project was implemented in the mountainous regions of the Lesser Poland and Subcarpathian voivodeships to support the revival of shepherding as a tool for active biodiversity conservation. Activities were targeted at local governments, NGOs, local entrepreneurs, farmers, tourists and scientists.

The project was funded through the Swiss–Polish Cooperation Programme, in the context of Swiss support to the new member states of the European Union. It was implemented by several partners, led by UNEP/GRID-Warsaw.

In 2007, prior to the launch of the project, REC Poland published the Handbook on the Implementation of the Carpathian Convention, which provides comprehensive guidance to the articles and chapters of the convention for the eight countries in the Carpathian region.

The Framework Convention for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians is the second most widely adopted sub-regional mountain protection system in the world, after the Alpine Convention. The Carpathian Convention promotes integrated resource planning and management, and highlights the need to consider the objectives of conservation and the sustainable use of biological and landscape diversity in sectoral policies.

The main goal of the project was to protect the biological and landscape diversity of the Polish Carpathians by supporting the implementation of the provisions of the Carpathian Convention. It combined conservation efforts, sustainable land use, the preservation of traditional land use and local livestock breeds with activities that promoted sustainable tourism development, increased public participation in the implementation of the convention, and provided information on the natural and cultural heritage of the region. Implementation of the convention is also important for areas located in river basins that originate in the Carpathians and affect the Baltic and Black Seas.

The project objectives were achieved by:

  • maintaining and developing traditional sheep grazing in mountain pastures and semi-natural meadows, protecting traditional breeds of livestock and supporting the revival of the pastoral tradition;
  • reducing the negative impacts of tourism on natural areas by drafting a regional sustainable tourism development strategy for a selected part of the Carpathians;
  • improving access to information on the Carpathians, their natural and cultural heritage, tourist infrastructure and actions undertaken for the implementation of the convention by launching the web portal "Carpathian Informatorium" to present data on the Polish Carpathians using geoinformation techniques, and by conducting a series of trainings and lectures;
  • creating a network for information exchange among institutions and bodies working for the implementation of the Carpathian Convention; and
  • ensuring public participation in the implementation of the Carpathian Convention by creating a wide platform for public consultation and support for thematic working groups.

REC Poland’s activities focused on the creation of a database on the possibilities for the revival of sheep herding in the Polish Carpathians; the restoration of traditional herding methods; and the protection of mountain meadow biodiversity.

Activities included:

  • Compiling environmental inventories of mountain pasture areas.
  • Monitoring habitat changes.
  • Constructing or renovating 55 pastoral facilities in order to restore traditional sheep grazing in selected areas.
  • Supporting local pastoral organisations through the purchase of the sheep breed "Polish Mountain Sheep".
  • Participating in promotional events in the Carpathian region, including traditional festivals, workshops and shepherds’ meetings.
  • Holding consultations on the development of a traditional shepherd economy (analysis of the impact on Carpathian mountain pasture biodiversity, shepherd culture, the production of traditional dairy products, and on shepherding history in the Carpathians).
  • Holding consultations with local authorities in Carpathian municipalities.
  • Developing a national action plan.
  • Developing a strategy for sustainable tourism development.
  • Carrying out the Carpathian Leadership Training Cycle.
  • Organising competitions directly targeted at municipalities to promote actions aimed at strengthening the Carpathian identity.
  • Creating the Carpathian Open University (in cooperation with universities in the region and focusing on biodiversity, the implementation of the Carpathian Convention and tourism development).
  • Training and capacity building
  • Gathering of information
  • Monitoring
  • Drafting action plans