Livestock Monitoring

Large uninhabited areas on Samothraki show signs of overgrazing, mainly by feral and unmanaged domestic goats and sheep. Reducing that pressure is an integral aspect of managing Samothraki as a Biosphere Reserve. The history of livestock keeping on the island, and the ongoing economic interests that relate to that, do however require a profound mentality change considering the role of livestock for the community. Conducting scientific monitoring (i.e. line transects to estimate goat and sheep abundance) can help to disentangle rumors from facts, and establish a causal link between soil erosion and livestock numbers. Αn approach that involves key stakeholders and citizens in the monitoring process is much more effective in changing long-lasting attitudes within the community.

Such a participative monitoring method is the deployment of camera traps (a digital camera with a thermal and a movement sensor, that can be put up for up to 3 months without maintenance). Citizens will be trained and encouraged to put up camera traps on sites they consider important (such as in remote areas that show signs of degradation) – and can then continuously document animal movements on those sites.  The generated point count data can later be used to extrapolate species abundance (using distribution and agent based models); and the imagery can immediately be investigated by the citizens themselves, in a much more qualitative way (i.e. identifying earmarks, or other livestock characteristics, or exploring the remaining wildlife eventually foraging these zones). The citizen scientists also work as multipliers, communicating their findings among their communities/peers, and thereby raise broad awareness to the current pressure the livestock puts onto the island ecosystem – which in turn is a precondition to putting large scale species management plans into action.