In the mid-1980ies, the “ArGe alte Alpenrassen (Working Group Old Alpine Livestock Breeds)”, abbr.: ArGe, was established as a group of individuals dedicated to cross-border conservation (Austria-Switzerland-Germany) of endangered livestock breeds in the Alps. Active members met one or more times per year within the frame of the “Lake Constance Meeting” that sometimes even took place in Tyrol, in Austria, or in France.
Based on the enormous know-how built up within ArGE, several successful initiatives were launched, e.g. the first cross-border survey of “Agricultural Genetic Resources of the Alps” (Risorse genetiche agricole delle Alpi). Supervised by ProSpecieRara, a survey including risk-analysis was conducted and published in 1995 in a 544 page volume. In the same year, the "Monitoring Institute for Rare Breeds and Seeds in Europe", was founded as a result of this study. Its Steering Committee assembled members of ArGe from different countries. The institute intensified the studies on the Alpine region and published an updated version of the study at: (URL: www.agrobiodiversity.net/alpinenet/pdf/Alp-Moni-en.pdf).
The establishment of the Italian organization R.A.R.E. was initiated within the frame of a research project, "Risorse genetiche agrarie in Italia: Rischio die estinzione - Iniziative per la conservazione - Necessità di Intervento", that published its findings in 2002,. The ArGe working group also played a major role in the process of founding the European umbrella organization ‘SAVE Foundation’, supplying a vision, the necessary logistics and experience in cross-border activities through the “Lake Constance Meetings”.
With the discovery of the last Black Alpine pigs in 2013 in Northern Italy, an unexpected need for action arose. SAVE Foundation mandated ArGe with a rescue project. Not only were the pigs of focus, but also the conservation of the Ciuta sheep breed could restart and now is successful. The extension and intensification of field work in the Italian language area by Kurt Kusstatscher and Hape Grunenfelder led to a stronger structuring of ArGe and a new name: “Pro Patrimonio Montano” – Rete per la Conservazione del Patrimonio delle Montagne” (abbr.: Network/Rete PatriMont).
Today’s area of activities
The present activity area stretches across the entire Central and Eastern Alps and includes cross-border networking for different projects. The establishment of new populations of Ciuta sheep and Black Alpine pigs, among others, are supported and recorded through a herd book.
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