Pastoralism, multifunctionality, and environmental agency: Insights from mountain sheep pastoralists in Northern Portugal uri icon


  • The idea of multifunctionality permeates European agricul-ture. Pastoralism is not spared and is valued as a vector ofenvironmental management of the mountainous areas. Mul-tifunctionality is nonetheless connected to entrepreneurialagriculture. Although entrepreneurship is disseminated inthe European agricultural sector, little is known about theentrepreneurial evolution within traditional mountain pasto-ralist communities. This ethnographic paper builds on thecase study of mountain sheep pastoralists in Braganza,Portugal, to augment this knowledge. It dives into thedynamics of production of sheep farming to uncover thecultural drivers of traditional pastoralism in NorthernPortugal. Results show that pastoralists are unresponsive tothe entrepreneurial narratives of multifunctionality as theyrespond to the occupational identity of shepherds in amoral economy of subsistence ethic. Pastoralists neverthe-less own a valuable environmental agency grounded in theircondition of rural dwellers. Tailored narratives to their sub-sistence ethic are then required to rapidly address and valo-rize this environmental agency as new fire regimes progressand traditional pastoralism stands at the brink of extinctionin Portugal. These results may ultimately contribute toglobal literature and policy making on pastoralism, multi-functionality and environment; worldwide pastoralist com-munities share holistically cultural features and convergenthistorical trajectories.
  • The research has partially been supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INTERREG SUDOE Programme in the frame of the project Open2Preserve (SOE2/P5/E0804). The funding source had no influence in the research, results interpretation, article preparation, and journal's selection for publication.

publication date

  • February 2022