Polish region gives 2 million zloty for traditional sheep grazing

A region in Poland’s mountainous south has announced 2 million zloty (€460,000) of support for shepherds. By promoting “cultural grazing”, the authorities aim to preserve the area’s landscapes, local traditions and famous sheep milk cheeses.

“Grazing sheep on mountain pastures prevents overgrowth and the disappearance of valuable natural areas”, explained Łukasz Smółka, the deputy governor of the Małopolskie province, which contains parts of the Tatra, Pieniny and Beskidy Mountains.

“The preservation of the pastoral economy in the mountains is also important because of the centuries-old traditions of local people,” he added. This will help both improve the quality of life for residents and also maintain the attractiveness of the area for tourists, added Smólka.

Shepherds have been leading sheep down from their pastures ahead of winter in a highlander autumn tradition called Redyk that has become an annual folk event https://t.co/8jzjQbFvfv

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 11, 2020

Grazing is an integral part of the cultural heritage of Polish mountain areas and helps produce the high-quality sheep’s milk from which traditional Polish cheeses such as bryndza, oscypek and bundz are made.

The grant – titled “Małopolska cultural grazing – extensive farming methods as an ecological way of preserving biodiversity and landscape in 2024” – is open to shepherds in Małopolska who graze three specific breeds of sheep or a mix of them. Candidates can apply until 26 January.

It is the third time the Małopolskie province is allocating funds for the conservation grazing of sheep in the region. In 2022, 1.87 million zloty was distributed among 86 shepherds, while last year grants totalling 2 million zloty were awarded and 92 shepherds benefited from the funds.

Fewer than 150 people are qualified to produce Poland’s famous highland cheese oscypek, made from the milk of sheep that graze in the Tatra mountains https://t.co/2BV2DjsJJf

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) March 20, 2019

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Main image credit: Robert Garstka RIK/Wikimedia Commons (under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Agata Pyka is an assistant editor at Notes from Poland. She is a journalist and a political communication student at the University of Amsterdam. She specialises in Polish and European politics as well as investigative journalism and has previously written for Euractiv and The European Correspondent.

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