The XXI century mountains:sustainable management of mountainous areas based on animal traction

According to the FAO, there are around 300 million working animals worldwide. They play a fundamental role in human livelihoods through their contribution to financial, human and social capital, supporting between 300 and 600 million people globally, particularly in poorer areas, where animal energy represents a huge and extremely important sustainable power resource.Yet its recognition remains neglected in many programs of cooperation to development, with animal traction being largely ignored by decision and policy makers and even by civil society at all levels, which compromises a real development of this technology as well as animal welfare. On the other hand, a collective ecological and economical consciousness and an increasing awareness of public opinion about the need to reduce the excessive industrialization and mechanization of agriculture and forestry has led some sectors of society to consider the (re)use of animal traction as a valid modern source of energy. Indeed, working animals optimally transform the consumed biomass in energy and natural fertilizer, which avoids soil degradation and contributes to a sustainable management of arable lands, forests and sensitive areas. The need to maintain biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, encourage self-reliance and reduce consumption of resources also contributes to this trend.

Under the skin

Over the last months news media reported about a huge demand from China for donkey hides, which puts under great pressure the donkey populations and their owners worldwide. The hides are used to produce a traditional Chinese medicine. An extensive report on the issue is now published by THE DONKEY SANCTUARY.

A survey on the role of draught animal power today

Draught animal power has been defined as the "forgotten renewable" or as "the underdeveloped development tool". Forgotten and underdeveloped this source of energy can't express all its potential probably because the decision makers, NGO's, international organizations and national authorities are not informed on how animal traction is widespread in remote villages. The aim of the survey launched at is to supply data to the decision makers on how draught animal power can be a very useful intermediate technology between manual labor and mechanization. All those who have appropriate information are kindly requested to fill in the 4 pages form of the survey. Some more information of a cost benefit analysis on the use of draught animal power can be found in document presented at the Asian Buffalo Congress held in Istanbul April 21-25, 2015. A short presentation of the matter is available also in

SFET - Société Française des Equidés de Travail

SFET French Working Equids Society The French Working Equids Society SFET was founded in 2012 and is meant to be the contact for national authorities regarding all the issues concerning the French working equid breeds, that is 7 donkey breeds, 2 mule breeds, 9 draught horse breeds and 8 local breeds of horses and poneys, in total 24 breeds counting 225.000 animals. In order to reverse the decline in the birth rate of these breeds the SFET is committed on different action levels: developing tools allowing to produce animals that meet the demand of the market ( characterization, selection, valorisation, marketing) and organize the exchange between producers of good working equids and their customers.
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