Ecotourism news

A cushion to give new life to wool

17 November 2022
Aree Protette Alpi Marittime

Do you know what greasy wool is? It is freshly shorn wool, ‘contaminated’ by plant elements (e.g. grass, leaves, branches), earthy elements and animal droppings. Being a contaminated material, it cannot find any use on the farm. At best it is sold below cost, but more often, as contaminated material it must be disposed of, becoming an additional economic burden for the farmer.

Regulation n. 1774/2002 of the European Commission in fact classifies wool as an Animal By-product of Origin, i.e. as a material that carries hygienic-sanitary risks and needs specific treatment to be transformed into a technical product, or disposal in the special waste category. This creates a vicious circle that transforms wool from a resource to a cost for farmers.

The valorisation of wool is a concrete tool to provide sheep shepherds with new perspectives, as their sheep are undoubtedly among the most vulnerable prey to wolf attacks.

Within the framework of LWA EU Action C7, cushions for animals stuffed with wool were created, giving a new life to this product. The Alpi Marittime Protected Areas, with the support of local farmers’ organisations, set up a small local supply chain, collecting as much as 1300 kilos of greasy wool from four farms in the Stura di Demonte and Pesio valleys. Carding was carried out at the authorised Piedmontese centre Biella Wool Company, while the pillows were packed by artisans in the Langhe region.

Part of the proceeds from the sale of the pillows will be donated to the farmers who gave them, and part will go to the association’s coexistence fund Io non Ho Paura del lupo, supporters and project stewards, dedicated to supporting farmers in prevention work.

You can find the pillows for sale on the Io non ho paura del lupo website at this link.

If you want to learn more about wool, you can read here the technical report “Lana che fare?” a preliminary survey on the Italian wool sector, with a focus on the Alpis and the Ligure-Piemontese Apennines, to identify the limits and opportunities for the development of the wool product. The research was carried out by Luisa Vielmi, naturalist and technician of difesAttiva. The qualitative and quantitative analysis was carried out thanks to the contribution of the three Professional Farmers’ Organisations (CIA, Confagricoltura and Coldiretti).