Participatory value mapping of a traditional wood-pasture

Wood-pasture systems of Transylvania have exceptional cultural, historical and ecological values and they were shaped by traditional farming practices. Key for their future persistence is to find societal support for them.

The overarching goal of this workshop was to identify the ways how the urban society is connected to the wood-pasture near Sfantu Gheorghe – Sepsiszentgyörgy. Inspired by our ‘Wood-pasture futures’ workshop in Viscri (hold in July), Mr. László Csákány, our good friend and a huge supporter of wood-pastures both as owner of such a system and as the President of the Association for the management of the Commons ‘Szemerja és Görgő’ which manages a fantastic wood-pasture, organised a two days workshop targeting the values of the wood-pastures.

The workshop was implemented in two consecutive days (29th and 30th of September) and had cca 40 participants in both days.

In the first day Tibor Hartel had a power point presentation about the values of the wood-pastures and their sustainability challenges. The presentation was followed by participatory value mapping, where the participants had the opportunity to map the locations they like to visit in a wood-pasture, using large, printed satellite maps. Deliberative discussions were also made.

The second day was about visiting the wood-pasture. On the way the participants had the opportunity to discuss about sustainable tourism, landscape planning, landscape history, ecology, large carnivores, and nature photography, for each domain key persons being invited. The day ended with a good meal at provided by Mr. Toader and his family, at the base of the sheepfold in the wood-pasture.

Presidents of two other farmer associations were present and impressed by these activities. Therefore, hope exist for organising cultural manifestations in other two wood-pastures as well, in the near future.

It is important that the public institutions relevant for wood-pasture management realize that the values of their wood-pastures are in many ways beyond the boundaries of the formal public borders and are woven into society. Participatory value mapping is one form of finding out what their area means to people and using this knowledge to manage pastures in a way that is economically, culturally, and ecologically satisfactory. This is possible if there is an opening and intention from the owners and managers of these systems.

The ‘Transylvanian wood-pastures’ project offered conceptual and logistical assistance for the implementation of the first day and contributed to the implementation of the second day activities through our colleague Tibor Hartel.

The sense of the experience is transmitted by the below pictures.

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