In 1963, grassland scientists officially established the European Grassland Federation (EGF), which represents countries throughout Europe and covers all European mountainous regions. From the beginning, the EFG had the following objectives.
To facilitate and maintain close contact among European grassland organizations.
To promote the interchange of scientific and practical experience among grassland experts.
To initiate symposia and other meetings among European grassland organizations.
Membership is open to national or representative grassland organizations in Europe. These may be national grassland societies or associations, national grassland institutes, or academies of agricultural science. Presently, there are 29 full country members and 7 so-called corresponding members in countries without a national or representative organization.
Focus on mountain grasslands
As a general rule, conference themes are partly tailored to the type of grassland agriculture in the host country. Thus, aspects of mountain grassland farming may be featured regularly in the general meetings or more specifically in symposia held in mountain countries.
The following meetings or symposia included specific aspects of mountain agriculture.
Scotland, 1968—Hill Land Productivity.
Yugoslavia, 1980—Forage Production Under Marginal Conditions.
Norway, 1984—Impact of Climate on Grassland Production and Quality.
Italy, 1996—Grassland and Land Use Systems.
Germany, 2001—Organic Grassland Farming.
France, 2002—Multifunction Grasslands: Quality Forages, Animal Products, and Landscapes.
With 2002 being the International Year of Mountains, it is fitting that Bulgaria (Pleven) was selected for the May 2003 symposium on “Optimal Forage Systems for Animal Production and the Environment.”
The next general meeting, on the theme “Land Use Systems in Grassland-Dominated Regions,” is scheduled to be held in Switzerland (Lucerne) in June 2004. At this congress, a wide range of aspects relating to grassland systems will be discussed, with a focus on their implications under various environmental conditions and management intensities. Recent advances allowing increased efficiency and sustainability of grassland systems will be presented. Expectations about grassland systems and the achievements of these systems in terms of services to society and production of high-quality food will be discussed. Concepts of transdisciplinary research and system-oriented extension services will be introduced, pointing out how they can help meet future challenges of grassland-based agricultural systems. This general meeting will offer master classes and plenary sessions on themes such as “Balancing Ecology and Economics,” “Benefits and Risks to Society,” “Efficient Use of Natural Resources in Grassland Systems,” “From Forage to Food Quality and Safety,” and “Transdisciplinary Research and Exchange of Knowledge.” For more information, see www.egf2004.ch.
Additional information on aspects and activities of the EGF, such as member countries, publications, and future conferences, is available on the EGF web site www.europeangrassland.org.