Curriculum and Training for European Sheep Farmers (SHEEPSKILLS)

Leonardo da Vinci


Summary of the project

Sheep have played a great role in landscape management, nature conservation, in regional economies and in rural culture in nearly all European countries. Meadows and nature grazed by sheep are amongst the richest biotopes as regards diversity of different plants and insects. Beyond the contribution of sheep to landscape management and nature conservation sheep farming has a potential for the regional economy. All politicians and regional developers talk about experience economy and experience tourism as new opportunities for economic growth. In remote and rural areas sheep and shepherding can make a considerable contribution to sustainable agricultural tourism. The regional economy could benefit by the emergence of new sources of income, e.g. from nature conservation, from funding for land, from farmers „hiring“ sheep as „grasscutters“. There could be events like sheep dog demonstrations and open courses on shepherding skills. Crafts around the wool and skin and the art of preparing traditional food could be experienced.

But to exploit this potential new skills are needed. Unfortunately, there has never been much prestige in sheep and shepherding and there is a lack of accredited training possibilities for shepherds in Europe.

The Leonardo innovation transfer project intends to develop a curriculum for shepherds in Europe, including basic skills, skills for herding sheep, empowerment to develop creative and innovative design and products, to contribute to an emerging experience economy, to use stat-of-the art ICT technology for networking and marketing the products throughout Europe. The project will support sheep owners, many of them women, many of them living in poor remote regions, to become professionals and develop new opportunities. The training curriculum will be accredited by the universities involved following the ECTS and ECVET schemes. The major products will be a comprehensive European portal on Shepherding Skills and a professional handbook. A pool of experts and trainers will deliver the courses throughout Europe, beyond the projects lifetime.

Duration of the project: 24 months (1st October, 2009 – 15th December, 2011)