SIMRA’s fourth brochure collecting examples of social innovation in marginalised rural areas has just been published. This collection of brochures aims at concretely illustrating social innovation through the presentation of local on-going initiatives throughout Europe and the Mediterranean basin, taking turns addressing different marginalized rural areas. This brochure addresses mountain areas.
The 21st of March is the official first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. The day of the equinox, in which plants start to blossom and sprout as warm air begins to invade our latitudes. Not only this, this day is also celebrated throughout the world as the International Day of Forests, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and trees for biodiversity and the livelihood of human communities around the globe.
Trees and forested areas cover one third of the Earth’s land, playing a key role in enhancing plant and animal diversity and in regulating carbon fluxes, mitigating the impact of anthropogenic climate changes. Additionally, forests are crucial resources for sustaining communities around the world. Water, flood prevention, fruits, leaves, branches, and wood are only a few of the key ecosystem services that they entail. Lastly, forests are of increasing importance for urban areas, providing a cooling green infrastructure in which citizens benefit from recreational activities and healthy lifestyles.
In rural areas, forests are a prominent feature of the landscape, especially when demographic changes increase spontaneous afforestation in former farmlands. For these reasons, forests are often the source of innovative projects aiming to alleviate social, environmental, and economic burdens of rural communities.
SIMRA database collected several examples of forest-based social innovations, spanning agroforestry schemes in Guadalupe, community woodlands in the UK or central Europe, to fire prevention groups in Spain and Portugal. Here is a selection of these forest initiatives:
According to the UN, “rural women play a key role in supporting their households and communities in achieving food and nutrition security, generating income, and improving rural livelihoods and overall well-being. They contribute to agriculture and rural enterprises and fuel local and global economies. As such, they are active players in achieving the Millennium Development Goals”. Rural women represent over a third of the total world population, but, in FAO’s words “they generally work as subsistence farmers, paid or unpaid workers on family farms or as entrepreneurs running on- or off-farm enterprises. In addition, women provide the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work in rural areas, thereby supporting current and future generations of rural workers within their households and communities”.
Women, as innovators, participants or beneficiaries, are playing a very relevant role in most of the social innovations collected by SIMRA. From the development of productive cooperatives in Egypt or Turkey to pooling and sharing their knowledge and expertise in the UK or Bulgaria, or setting up schemes to tackle societal issues like waste management in Lebanon or unemployment in Spain and Estonia, women are developing projects that enhance the well-being in their local communities.
Here there is a small selection of examples from our database in which women are protagonists of the social innovations developed in marginalised rural areas across Europe and the Mediterranean:
SIMRA has just released its second brochure collecting examples of social innovation in marginalised rural areas in Europe and the Mediterranean regions.
This brochure focuses on rural services, more precisely on how social innovation can help rural services such as health, education, energy, mobility and other social services of key importance in marginalised rural areas where these services are often in decline. A sneak peek of what you will find in this brochure includes mountain therapy for people with disabilities in Italy, a residence with grandmothers to attract young people in Bulgarian depopulated villages, an eco-social farm in Slovenia and an initiative to integrate unemployed women in Spain.
A year ago this week, I adopted an olive tree. I called it Carmen, after my grandmother. Whenever I want to know about my tree I just need to open an app that I have installed on my mobile phone. I can see pictures of it and whether it has been pruned, or what the local weather’s like, etc.… Once a year I receive two bottles of delicious olive oil. But what I love most, is that for only 50€ per year I am helping to employ people at risk of exclusion, I am helping young people to have a future in their village so they don’t have to migrate to the city, and I am preventing the closure of a local school in a village that, like so many others in inner Spain, have had to face the monsters of depopulation, ageing and loneliness. All at the same time as I am helping to recover hundred-year old olive trees and local traditions and conserve landscapes, care for the land, and support environmental, social and economic sustainability.
“Adotta una mucca”, (“Adopt a cow” in English) is an Italian initiative from the Valsugana Valley in the Trentino province. Its objective is to introduce tourists, children and families to mountain life and culture. Adopters can visit various Alpine huts, learn how mountain products are made faithfully following old recipes and enjoy cows on mountain pastures.
Cet article est disponible en français ici.
This new SIMRA brochure aims at showcasing the diversity of social innovations in rural areas of Europe and the Mediterranean regions. A sneak peek of what you will find in this brochure includes revitalisation plans of a UNESCO site in Slovakia, a renewable energy community trust in the UK, sustainable fishers delivering boxes of seafood to your doorstep in Greece, or a public-private partnership to support dairy producers in Tunisia!
The project “Adotta un terrazzamento” [“Adopt a terrace” in English] aims at regulating and expanding mountain farming activities by giving any interested person the opportunity to adopt a terrace and provide direct or long-term support to the mountains of the Brenta Valley, in the Alps region in Italy.