In this picture, taken from the train between Guarda and Mangualde, both colors and direction are inverted: clouds turned into shrubs and shrubs turned into clouds; dry grass into spots of blue sky. Inverted or not - the landscape is the same.
"Es sprechen zu den Menschensinnen
die Dinge in den Raumesweiten.
Sie wandeln sich im Zeitenlaufe.
Erkennend dring die Menschenseele,
von Raumesweiten unbegrenzt
und ungestört durch Zeitenlauf,
ins Reich der Ewigkeiten."
Born in Bavaria, grown up in Portugal, mainly on a farm in Beira alta. From 1999 to 2003 I studied Biology at the University of Coimbra.
In 2004/05 I did a master's in "Environment, Science and Society" at the University of Essex. Currently I'm about to finish my PhD in Environmental Science on agricultural marginalisation.
Agricultural Marginalisation in Portugal: threats and opportunities for sustainable livleihoods
In Portuguese mountain areas traditional and sustainable forms of agriculture are on the edge of economic viability, mainly due to agricultural and trade policies which apply economic theories from the industrial sector to agriculture. As a result, small-scale and family-farmers are forced out of business and they become dependent on the global food-system and markets, when they have no alternative income sources in the rural areas where they live. At the same time, environmental degradation, unemployment and health epidemics related to urban lifestyles spread and more and more people wish to escape unsatisfying jobs and to reconnect to the land. An economic system that prevents people form satisfying their livelihood needs directly from the land ultimately creates artificial hindrances to human well-being. It is essential that sustainable land-based livelihoods are properly valued and become viable again. For this to happen both policy change and grassroots action are needed. Policies need to consistently support the aim of proximity-based sustainable agri-food systems, i.e. regional food sovereignty, and interested individuals need opportunities to learn how to make a living from sustainable agriculture and other land-based activities.
In my research these problematic global trends are explored in detail, regarding the specific situation of Portuguese mountain areas, and existing sustainable agriculture initiatives in the area are mapped as a means to understand the possibilities to support the development of low-impact land based livelihoods.
I'm able to do a Ph.D. thanks to a studentship from the Portuguese Science Foundation - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), that I wish to acknowledge here.