Pastoralp Tools

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Video Tutorial for using the LIFE PASTORALP online platform (SUB ENG available)

Welcome to the LIFE PASTORALP platform


The PASTORALP platform consists of seven sections:


This section includes a summary description of the contents and the aims of the platform.


In this section, the produced cartography of the pastoral resources in the two study areas is available, in particular the extent, typology and classification of the main high mountain pastoral types.


This part includes a series of phenocams and NDVI sensors positioned both in the Gran Paradiso National Park (GPNP) and in the Parc National Des Ecrins (PNE), in order to monitor the phenology of the pastures. It allows real-time consultation of data on air humidity and temperature in some areas of the PNE and continuously updated images of some areas of the GPNP.


Includes user-friendly interactive maps related to current and future climate data under two different time slices (2011-2040 and 2041-2070) and RCP scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5). The section includes also the impacts of climate change on pastoral suitability as well as on growth and production of three productive pastoral macro types.


This section includes a series of adaptation strategies that have been identified to address climate change adaptation for the two case study areas. These strategies encompass both technical and policy strategies and have been identified considering their applicability, impact on biodiversity, success factors, technical difficulties by means of on-field testing, stakeholders consultations and modelling.


This section includes outcomes from the vulnerability analysis, i.e. biophysical indicators and socio-economic indicators


This section will include the main recommendations from the PASTORALP project.


This section makes available all interactive maps produced during the project under a webgis environment.


This section displays an updated and static cartography of the Gran Paradiso National Park and Parc Des Ecrins pasture vegetation, according to 13 grassland types, inventoried by integrating field surveys (carried out in 2019-2020-2021) and remotely sensed data. The interactive one can be navigated onto the WEBGIS section.

The pasture mapping activity involved the PNE and PNGP territories differently: in the PNE, some pasture maps produced under the “Alpages Sentinelles” programme were already available. The field work allowed to add six more pasture maps and to resurvey for a total of 2563 ha mapped. In the Gran Paradiso National Park, on the other hand, the surveys and mapping activities were done ex novo. All mountain pastures of Gran Paradiso National Park and closest surroundings, for a total of about 7500 ha, were involved.

The inventory followed a common and shared methodology between the two areas, likely to easily replicable to the whole western Alps, namely:

  • The territories of the two Parks lie in the validity zones of three different vegetation typologies, which classify the main plant communities that can be found in subalpine and alpine pastures in French Southern Alps (Jouglet, 1999), Vanoise and Aosta Valley (Bornard et al., 2007) or Piedmont (Cavallero et al., 2007). Categorization criteria were harmonised between the three classifications and common 13 pasture categories were developed.
  • The mountain grassland types have been identified by field visual assessments, and mapped according to the existing pasture typologies. This action was implemented in the territories of Gran Paradiso National Parkand closest surroundings (Orco, Cogne and Rhêmes Valleys) as well in targeted pastoral units of Parc Des Ecrins.
  • Existing and new remote sensing data (namely Landsat and Sentinel2 images) were used to implement innovative ways of mapping the main types of mountain pastures at a relevant scale for pastoral management. Whenever feasible, a special attention was paid to the cross-validation between field and satellite data. This result was achieved through these steps: a) identification and characterization of a number of properly representative surfaces to cover the range of variation in representative plots; b) processing and analysis of remotely sensed data to select the spectral indices capable of best discriminating the different vegetation types; c) validation of the detection algorithms through the comparison of results derived from satellite imagery with real vegetation on the ground.

The harmonization of classifications to define 13 common pasture categories from the Aosta Valley typology is reported in the figure.

A brief description of pastoral typologies is hereby, while the pasture type correspondences between the three vegetation typologies of the study area is reported in Table 1:

  • Productive: vegetation in flatlands and low slopes of the subalpine level with rich soil. Very tall (over 50 cm) and very dense vegetation dominated by broad-leaved graminaceae.
  • Subalpine intermediate: vegetation in flatlands and low slopes of the subalpine level with medium-rich soil. 30 to 50 cm high, dense grassy patches dominated by fine to medium-leaved graminaceae.
  • Nardus swards: on lowlands and slopes in the subalpine or alpine level, vegetation of medium height (20-30 cm), not very dense, dominated by Nardus stricta.
  • Grassy thermophile: on medium and steepy sunny slopes in the subalpine and alpine level, on dry and fairly deep soil. 30 to 50 cm high, very dense vegetation with almost total herbaceous cover.
  • Patzkea paniculata swards: on medium sunny slopes in the subalpine level, vegetation very tall (over 50 cm), very dense, dominated by graminaceae with long, thick leaves, especially Patzkea paniculata.
  • Brachypodium pinnatum swards: on medium sunny slopes in the subalpine level, vegetation of medium height (20-30 cm), dense, dominated by Brachypodium pinnatum.
  • Bare thermophile: medium to steep south-facing slopes in the subalpine and alpine level with dry soil.
  • Alpine intermediate: sparse vegetation on medium to moderate slopes, windy ridges and bumps in the alpine level.
  • Nival: sparse vegetation in snow combes and moderate slopes in alpine and nival environment.
  • Heaths: vegetation with a shrub and herb layer in the subalpine and alpine environment.
  • Nitrophilous vegetation: in flatlands and moderate slopes of the subalpine level; these herbaceous formations, dominated by nitrophilous species, develop in areas of accumulation and excess of manure.
  • Screes: areas with more than 50% of the surface occupied by stones and rocks, on steep slopes, located under ridges or rock bars.
  • Wetlands: very wet areas with temporary or permanent excess of water.

Table 1. Pasture type correspondences between the three vegetation typologies of the study area.

Productive S3 8, 56, 57, 59
Subalpine intermediate S2 52, 53, 54, 60, 64, PI3
Nardus swards S1, A8 29, 30, 32, 41, 47, 48, 49, 61 PI2, PI4
Grassy thermophile A3, S4 11, 40 PT1
P. paniculata swards S6 26 PI6, PI7
B. pinnatum swards S5 3, 25 PT2, PI5
Bare thermophile SA1, SA2, SA3, A1, A2 13, 17, 19, 24, 46, 50 PT3, PT4, PI1
Alpine intermediate A4, A5, A6, A7 21, 22, 33, 35, 36, 37 PT5
Nival A9, A10 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 79 PN1, PN2, PN3, PN4
Heaths L1, L2, L3 90, 91, 92 F1, F2, F3, F4
Nitrophilous vegetation 67, 69 RA1, RA2
Screes E 70 E1, E2
Wetlands ZH 81, 86 ZH1, ZH2

For further details, please refer to Deliverable C.6 (due in January 2022).

Pasture Vegetation in the inner alps: the hierarchy



This section includes real-time data from a series of phenocams and NDVI sensors positioned both in the Gran Paradiso National Park and in the Parc National Des Ecrins in oreder to monitor the pasture phenology.

Gran Paradiso National Park

A network of phenocam and NDVI sensors allows to track the seasonal evolution of canopy structural and functional properties and their interactions with climate and grazing; observation sites are located along a management gradient: a low elevation (~1500 m asl) intensively grazed pasture (Epinel), an extensively grazed grassland at 2000 m asl (Lauson) an high elevation grassland (Levionaz) with bouquet in grazing. Collected data are used to understand the feedbacks between taxonomical and functional diversity with site conditions, climate and grazing intensity, frequency and timing. They also represent field observations that can be used to evaluate remotely sensed products and to inform grassland productivity models.

National Parc Des Ecrins

Several sensors have been installed, with the aim to monitor pasture’s meadows phenology at different altitudes (e.g. agro-climatic conditions) and pastoral management. Two sites are situated in a pasture (name: Crouzet) of L’Argentière-la-Bessée. One site is located at 1940 m a.s.l. in a subalpine meadow, and the other one is situated in the alpine zone at 2350 m a.s.l., in an alpine meadow. Both sites are equipped with NDVI sensors and cameras for landscape monitoring. The NDVI sensors and the camera installed on the lower site can transmit real-time data, while the camera installed on the higher site does not. Another site is at Lautaret, currently transmitting real time data of air temperature and humidity, wind speed, NDVI values and snow cover.

Please click on one of the buttons below to see the real-time data for the relevant park.
Please notice that the webcams are switched on and operational only during the summertime in order to monitor the phenology.



Two climate change scenarios were considered among those provided by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, i.e. the main international body for the assessment of climate change). RCP 4.5, a more optimistic scenario, with average emissions, and some mitigation strategies in place; and RCP 8.5, a pessimistic scenario, with high emissions and no mitigation strategies in place. Note: RCP (Rapresentative Concentration Patways) is the trend of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere.

RCP4.5 RCP8.5
Reforestation programs No GHG mitigation policies
Reduction in animal farms CO2 3-4 times higher than today (280ppm)
Climate policies adoption CH4 emissions increase
CO2 increase until 2040, then stabilisation Population increase (12 billions in 2100)
Use of fossil fuels

As regards climate trends:

Variable PNE PNGP
Tmin increase > than Tmax (1-2°C vs 2-3°C) Tmin > Tmax Tmin > Tmax
Increase of precipitation monthly means precipitation precipitation
Rainfall more concentrated in intense events RCP45 and RCP85 RCP45 e RCP85

The analysis of the dataset for RCP 4.5 and 8.5, evidenced that monthly rainfall increases, with respect to the baseline, in both scenarios with a slight asymmetry towards the Park des Écrins, where the increases were generally higher with respect to Parco Gran Paradiso in both FP1 and FP2 time slices. In both regions, some decrease of monthly rainfall is generally recorded in summer period but a clear trend cannot be evidenced. Not a clear pattern is evident when analysing the differences amongst time slices to the extent that there is not a trend in increasing/decreasing monthly rainfall from FP1 to FP2. The same applied the effect of the scenario. Despite of the increases in precipitation pattern, extreme events are likely to be projected (i.e. floods, intensive rainfalls, etc.) as dry spell (number of consecutive days without rainfall) showed increases in summer season in both areas in the near and next future.

The simulation for Tmin and Tmax evidenced a general increase of temperatures with a slight seasonal trend for both Tmax and Tmin, where the highest increases were recorded in summer while the lowest in autumn-winter. Tmin and Tmax generally increased from FP1 to FP2 in both RCP 4.5 and 8.5, where RCP 8.5 recorded the highest temperature increases. It is evident an asymmetry in temperature increase for Tmin and Tmax, where Tmin recorded higher increases along the year, irrespective of scenarios and FPs, with respect to Tmax. The average annual increases of both Tmin and Tmax were similar for both parks.

To view the impact map, first choose the variable and the relevant indicator in the right panel (e.g. “temperature” “summer average”) then select the period (if it is the present, the absolute values will be shown, i.e. degrees celsius, if instead it is a future period, the difference will be shown, that is the delta, i.e. in degrees celsius).


List of feasible adaptation measures: this section displays interactively a list of adaptation measures identified to address climate change adaptation for the two case study areas. These measures encompass both technical measures and policies considering their applicability, impact on biodiversity, success factors, technical difficulties by means of on-field testing, stakeholders consultations, modelling output. These measures are promoted for the Western Alpine pastoral contexts to address and cope with climate change and extreme climate events (e.g. droughts). A detailed description of these measures is included in Deliverable C.6 (Feasible adaptation measures) and will set the basis to develop the climate change action plan in alpine pastoral contexts (Action C.8) advocating adaption for pastures of the entire Alpine chain.

A Glossary is also displayed at the bottom.

Please choose one kind of adaptation below in order to browse the relevant tree.

Click on the to expand the related elements | the definition for the words with dotted underline can be found in the glossary at the bottom of this page or just hovering the word itself with your mouse
Climate risks Consequences on the environment (soil, vegetation and water) or animals Potential consequences for the pastoral system Adaptation measures Issues to consider (management and biodiversity) Technical issues Factors for failure or success
• Lack of snow, very dry winter (frost exposure) or • Early snowmelt followed by spring frost or • Late spring or cold spring
Early spring
Spring drought and very little snow cover
Very marked drought in early summer
Heatwaves and wind at the beginning of summer
Very hot and dry summer, heatwave and drought
Rainy summer
Heavy rainfall
Very mild autumn


Term in French Term in Italian English translation ENG
Alpage Alpeggio Summer mountain pastures It indicates both the mountain pastures used by herds and flocks in the summer season, and the structures present on these pastures (houses, stables, milk processing rooms, etc.). The alpage consists of a variable number of remue or tramuto at higher and higher altitudes. The average period of stay in alpage is about 100 days.
The alpine pasture is a high-altitude pastoral unit used in summer by herds and flocks belonging to one or several farmers. Usually the alpine pasture consists of a variable number of pasture areas and huts, where the herd and its shepherds stop for the time necessary to consume the surrounding pastures. Stops in the trams, located at different altitudes, take place both uphill and downhill during the season, depending on the availability of fodder.
Quartiers d’août Tramuto superiore High altitude pastoral paddock Pastures at higher altitudes, usually grazed in August.
Amontagnage Monticazione Climbing Seasonal, vertical transhumance that takes place in the period of late spring/early summer when cattle and flocks are transferred from the lowlands to the summer mountain pastures
Démontagnage Demonticazione Downclimbing Descent of cattle and flocks from the alpage to the lowlands at the end of summer or in automn.
Pâture intégrale Pascolamento integrale 24 hours grazing time Night and day grazing with no return to the barn
Végétation grossière Vegetazione grossolana Coarse vegetation Graminoid vegetation that is poorly consumed by animals (Patzkea paniculata, Brachypodium gr. pinnatum, Helictotrichon spp., Deschampsia caespitosa, Calamagrostis spp., etc)
Bois adaptés à une utilisation sylvo-pastorale Boschi vocati per un utilizzo silvo-pastorale Forests suitable for sylvo-pastoral use Forests suitable for sylvo-pastoral use: these are generally even-aged woods characterized by a herbaceous understory, likely rich in grasses and/or legumes and/or a shrub layer having a mid pastoral value. The main tree species larch forests, secondary broadleaf forests (birch, poplar, invasive maple and ash forests, etc.), Scots pine and oak forests rich in grasses and legumes, sometimes fir woods. This category doesn’t entail forests directly protected, stands under regeneration or transformation processes as well as uneven-aged stands at any stage of growth. Beech forests, fir forests, oak-hornbeam forests do not have a particular forestry vocation. In suitable stands, the conditions of the sward, light on the ground and availabiklity for grazing can be improved by thinning, also through the transformation of irregular stands, without any particular management and without any other particular vocations.
Petite faune
Fauna minore Minor species Wild minor species – complex of small size species (“minor” doesn’t have a biological or systematic meaning) like: amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, fish and insects.
Some “minor species” are listed in The Bird (2009/147/EC) and Habitat Directive (92/43/CEE). Directives define the protection level.
Mayen Mayen Mayen Mid-mountain pasture, used on the way up or down from the mountain pasture, thus at the beginning and end of the grazing period.




In order to assess the vulnerability of pastoral systems in the two study areas and to quantify the impacts of future climate change as a function of some of the hypothesised adaptation strategies, two modelling tools (PaSim, DayCent), suitably calibrated and validated for the Alpine region, were used. This approach allowed to identify the best technical adaptation measures with the aim of ensuring the continuity of fodder production while storing carbon in the soil, improving manure spreading and promoting biodiversity.

PaSim – a grassland and pasture-specific model – and DayCent – a generic crop model – are both biogeochemical models that simulate the daily fluxes of carbon and nitrogen at the atmosphere-vegetation-soil interface and their variation when climatic and management conditions change. Using a mechanistic (ecosystem-based) view of grasslands, the models allow the estimation of crop and animal production, greenhouse gas emissions and changes in carbon storage, as well as their evolution under future climate projections and alternative management options.

To reduce the uncertainties associated with the observations and simulations, an in-depth analysis of the available data has been applied to assess the sensitivity of alpine pastures to environmental factors and to identify, through satellite vegetation indices, groups of low-, medium- and high-altitude pastures in the French and Italian Alps. However, the results obtained from our simulation models show an uncertainty resulting from different sources such as model structure, parameterisation, input data. It is therefore difficult to determine how this uncertainty (affect the model estimates??) manifests itself in the model estimates. Therefore, the results obtained must be interpreted with the help of experts, who are able to reduce the uncertainty. Furthermore, it is important to highlight the difference in the reliability of the models applied in the two national parks . Whereas for the Gran Paradiso National Park the low, medium and high altitude areas were modelled by combining data collected in the field with predictors derived from satellite data, in the Parc National des Ecrins the definition of these areas was based only on remote sensing data. Here, it is reported an extract of the data obtained from the DayCent model for the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Parc National des Écrins: the figures below illustrate phenological phases, forage production in the peak season and Net Ecosystem Exchange values for the present, the near future (2011-2040) and the far away future (2041-2070) based on pastures located in different altitude zones: low altitude (1800-2100 m), medium altitude (2100-2200 m) and high altitude (2200-2400 m).


Recommendations on the key project deliverables for decision-makers and politicians at every level – local, regional, national, and transnational – based upon identified adaptation strategies have been developed with the objective of promoting alpine pasture socio-ecological systems that are more resilient and fully implementable.

The objective of the political recommendations is to develop and improve the adaptation of the pastoral system to climate change, including the different segments composing the system: summer mountain pasture management; water management; biodiversity preservation; multifunctionality and pastoralism/tourism coexistence; cooperation and training.


In a scenario of climate change and more frequent extreme weather events, the objective is to promote sustainable grazing management that preserves the quality and quantity of the fodder resource, taking into account its biodiversity.

Increase flexibility in the exploitation of summer mountain pastures

Supporting or not blocking specific adaptations that do not damage the environment and guarantee the feeding of the herds, such as:

  • changes in the grazing calendar;
  • changes in the number of animals;
  • annual, marginal exchanges of pastures between neighbouring summer mountain pastures;
  • movements of animals to other areas.

Prioritize an approach based on expected results

Encourage the implementation of result-oriented agri-environmental and climatic-environmental measures rather than restrictions and predetermined tasks, such as the number of animals, that make the system too rigid.

Provide management tools – such as pasture management plans – that take into account the specificities of each summer mountain pasture. Promote measures based on the summer mountain pasture management unit and not only based on the surface criteria.

Promote an eco-pastoral approach of the territory

Include the mountain summer pastures in the wider strategies of land management. Encourage collective approaches (pastoral groups, land improvement consortia, collective ownership, associations, etc.) with a wider impact on the territory, promoting the creation of networks and supporting the owners in the mountain summer pastures management. Create a regulatory body for summer mountain pastures and regulatory tools to prevent and face the distorting effects on the market for summer mountain pasture leases.

Improve the exploitation of all grazing areas of the alpine pasture

Provide summer mountain pastures with equipment (e.g. construction and renovation of buildings, drinking facilities for the animals) to better distribute the number of animals on the mountain pastures. Give technical assistance to owners and/or lessees to improve buildings, infrastructures, and equipment. Improve access to summer mountain pastures and grazing land to be assessed on a case-by-case basis (renovation and/or construction of driveways, footpaths, helicopters, gondolas, monorails, etc.).

Extend the grazing areas of alpine pastures or the valley floor farms

Have procedures and tools to deal with land parceling (plots with multiple or unknown users, unused plots). Promote the use of buffer zones and the recovery of pastoral areas covered by shrubs and trees.

Apply an integrated silvopastoral management to promote pasture in suitable forests, through the implementation of laws and plans of forest management. Create an obligation of consultation for the elaboration of the pans of forest management that take into account that pastoral activity.

Support adaptation

Develop and improve the tool analyzing climatic vulnerability in the summer mountain pastures. Have technical tools and human resources to support breeders (e.g. training, consultancy) in order to consider for them the recommendations on habitat management and conservation of the species. Encourage information transfer and creation of work groups (visits at the end of the season) between herders and other stakeholders of the territory. Facilitate the creation and the realization of projects through organized assistance. Strengthen technical support structures for pastoralism (research centers, associations).

[PNE - PNGP] The territories are characterized by significant land parceling and frequent co-ownership of plots, which make the management of contracts difficult.
[PNGP VdA] The dissociation between mountain pastures ownership and management negatively affects the investments on mountain pastures structures.
[PNGP] The mechanisms of attribution of financial measures linked to the areas create distortive effects on the market of mountain pastures rentals.



Managing Authority of the Regional Complement of Rural Development of the CAP Strategic Plan 23/27 for Aosta Valley

Our action to implement the CAP in Valle d’Aosta between 2023-2027 is in line with the direction traced by these recommendations. Thanks to the participation and the discussion established with the PASTORALP project since 2019, we are planning to implement different tools shifting us from a transversal application of agro-climate-environmental measures to “tailor-made” solutions, designed to consider context specificities and promote goal-oriented reasoning. Specifically, we are working to introduce two tools for proper pasture management: the territorial Plan and the grazing Plans.

The first, thanks to a preliminary deliberation, will be the planning tool for meadow-pastures in the whole Region, will define the general framework, notwithstanding the national regulations, starting from the clear and unambiguous definition of “meadow” and “pasture”, thus establishing the concepts of grazing turns, grazing period, type of animals, with the definition of the potential stocking rate by pastoral categories and the provision of guidelines for drafting the grazing Plans. Based upon this “macro” territorial planning framework, the grazing Plans will include at the “micro” level aspects such as: grazing areas actually used by the herds; tramuti half-way pastures (i.e. farmhouses and pastures used for a short period of time before going up to the actual pasture) and grazing areas; eligible areas; areas of interest that are not immediately usable; improvements to be implemented; species and categories of grazed livestock; optimal theoretical stocking rate resulting from the analysis of the potential productivity of the different areas; simulations and evolutionary scenarios, also adaptable to extreme weather events and ongoing climate changes.

This new approach is the result of the capitalization of the methodology for the main types of mountain pastures classification and mapping tested by the PASTORALP project in the Gran Paradiso National Park pilot area.

The extension of this methodology over the entire regional area, thanks to a dedicated agreement with ARPA VdA, is leading to the definition of the pasture Register, which provides data, with reference to altitude, slope, vegetation cover indexes, dry matter productivity, average annual stocking rate expressed in Uba, in a territorial grid of 20 meters by 20 meters. This is a fundamental tool that, made available to everyone, constitutes the starting point for the definition of plans, reducing their complexity and processing costs. For us as a regional administration, this is an important milestone because it allows us to regain possession of our territorial reading and classifying tools, after years in which this classification was carried out and updated at a national level, with tools and methods which we could shape only marginally.

We are aware that this is a radical change: from area subsidies calculated automatically with transversal algorithms, we are moving towards measures planned on a case-by-case basis, aimed at preserving, recovering or improving production potential while respecting biodiversity and landscape and allowing a flexibility and adaptation that are today essential in the wake of increasingly extreme weather events and rapidly changing climate scenarios.

In order to make this transition effective, we are aware that we must provide adequate support, in terms of training (of farmers and experts) and back up; we are working in this direction with the new knowledge and innovation system in agriculture “AKIS - Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System”, promoted by the CAP for 2023 - 2027.

This challenge must be tackled together, in a continuous exchange between administration, farmers’ representatives, field experts and scientific research.


This section makes available all interactive maps produced during the project under a webgis environment, thus requiring a skilled user in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software. The maps available are the following:

  • Current and future climate (absolute values and delta changes)
  • Pastoral Suitability
  • Pasture Macro types (13 pastoral typologies, 3 productive Pasture macro types)


PASTORALP suitability


PASTORALP macrotypes


To access the digital data, please send an email request to Camilla Dibari: camilla dot dibari at unifi dot it