Human history has been shaped by food. Centuries of breeding activities have developed a broad diversity of livestock breeds and varieties of cultivated plants. They are adapted to optimize their production in specific regional environmental conditions. Diversified land use systems that integrate multiple approaches such as both crop and pasture-based farming as appropriate to the respective natural conditions have shaped up over time.
A very special diversity of breeds and varieties that are extremely robust and undemanding developed in mountainous areas because of the high landscape variation and difficult production conditions. They are especially interesting as they – in contrast to conventional breeding lines - managed to adapt to high alpine terrain, strong solar radiation and short vegetation periods. Mountain regions are therefore considered to be “secondary gene centers”. To this day, it is first and foremost important to keep and cultivate robust livestock and plants in the Alpine region. A broad diversity is important for preparation of extremes of dry or wet, cold or warm seasons. In the mountains, it is not the highest performance that counts but rather a good average yield. Extensive management with locally adapted breeds is important for sustainable use of natural resources through working landscapes.
Although industrialized agriculture arrived late in mountainous areas, valuable biodiversity has still been lost over the past decades. It will probably never be possible to extend conservation to all concerned livestock and plants. However, PatriMont aims to secure the most remarkable breeds for future use. The conservation of livestock breeds endangered by extinction is a valuable contribution to the conservation of agricultural diversity in alpine regions for future generations and for the preservation of cultural heritage.