Exploring Relationships and Conflicts Between Practices, Policies, and Regulations in Wood Pasture Social-Ecological Networks: The Case of Tuscany


  • eugenia epinelli Iuav Venezia
  • carlotta Gianni


conflict, collaborative governance, silvopastoral systems




Wood pasture is a neutral designation that, following a geographical approach, indicates a type of landscape with trees where grazing is the main driver. From a socio-ecological perspective, wood pasture systems vary depending on the interactions between ecological components, stakeholders involved, management systems, and governance systems. As a practice, wood pasture takes on multiple forms, including traditional, contingency-driven practices based on the economic and land availability of the shepherd/farmer, and innovative practices within agroforestry activities. What distinguishes practitioners' activities is primarily the approach with which a land management plan on the company's territory is or is not designed. In all cases, in Italy, wood pasture practices are regulated by multiple sectoral regulations, which, by not directly considering silvopastoralism, do not facilitate its diffusion and tend to cause the informal execution of practices. In this landscape, an experimental representation of wood pasture practices is proposed as complex socio-ecological systems composed of intersectoral interactions to analyze their characteristics. The hypothesis is that existing relationships are often unstable, non-reciprocal, and conflicting, increasing the distances between different types of practitioners and hindering the diffusion of agroforestry silvopastoral practices. The research's objective is, therefore, to understand how socio-ecological systems of woodland grazing are structured, specifically answering the questions: i) who are the main actors constituting the socio-ecological systems of wood pasture? ii) What are the interactions between the actors? iii) What externalities do these interactions produce? The study context was chosen regionally to have a common regulatory framework regarding forest regulations, measures of activated common agricultural policy, and landscape plans. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with shepherds, farmers, and public officials. Data processing was done through network analysis, allowing the representation of the interaction system of individual practitioners and connecting systems, assessing the degree of collaboration between parties (among shepherds, between shepherds and the political and regulatory system, between regulatory and political sectors). The analysis creates a network composed of nodes and edges, where nodes represent social and ecological actors, while edges represent various types of relationships, whether conflicting or not, between actors. The representation is obtained by calculating three centrality indicators: degree centrality, betweenness centrality, and closeness centrality. The first measures a node's involvement through the number of connections, the second identifies the probability that a node is on the shortest path between two others, highlighting key actors and ecological components in the network, and the third is used to evaluate the average closeness of actors in the network. Preliminary results identify multispecies and multilevel networks forming wood pasture systems where actors in veterinary, agronomic, forestry, landscape, and environmental sectors have non-reciprocal relationships with shepherds and show poor correlation between them. Furthermore, the network highlights the distance between practitioners aware of agroforestry silvopastoral practices integrated into an official knowledge network and shepherds who have been trained through direct or transmitted knowledge moving in informal networks. The multilevel representation model offered by network analysis, experimented in the territorial context of the Tuscany region, is proposed as a model to be implemented and applied to other territorial bases to understand often isolated silvopastoral systems, connect them to territorial data, and assess social and ecological relationships. This methodology, by facilitating the interpretation of wood pasture production systems, has the potential to highlight system criticalities to promote dialogue between sectors, the creation of trans-sectoral collaborative models, and the sharing of knowledge.


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