Demand and economic potential for working horses in Swedish municipalities
Abstract: The aim of my study is to answer the question whether there is a potential for services by working horses in the Swedish municipalities. The Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Swedish Farmers Union (LRF) has started a cooperation called Climate School (Klimatskolan), with the purpose to increase knowledge in environmental and climate related issues in context of agriculture. This Master thesis is in the framework of the Climate School.Global warming is a problem that gets much attention today. Global warming and climate change are two subjects that are very much in focus on the political agenda. The municipalities of Sweden have a big responsibility concerning environmental work and to develop their own environmental thinking. Today you can see an increase in the use of horses in different work activities in municipalities. These horses can work in places where working machines can’t, and at the same time horses are not as harmful to the environment.The aim with this thesis should not be seen as replacing all tractors with working horses, and go back to a agriculture that reminds of the old days. The working horse could be seen as a tool in the municipalities’ environmental work, where work assignments are suitable for both horses and machine driven equipments. Working horses could be seen as a complement and a substitute to motor driven equipments. The thesis includes a questionnaire with municipalities that have experiences with working horses and analyses of the results from the questionnaire (economic, climate effects, and other benefits). An Internet survey was sent out to all municipalities in Sweden to investigate the interest in working horses. Existing working horse companies that have these kinds of activities have been contacted to get their professional opinions about this topic. By the well-answered Internet inquiry (67 % answering rate), it can be concluded that there are a large interest and willingness to use working horses.This thesis also includes a Cost – Benefit Analysis (CBA). CBA is a good way of comparing benefits and costs to the society as a whole when the environment is taken into account. In this thesis, it for example means that price will be set for the CO2 emissions. The CBA of the chosen scenario "small scale forest work", where comparisons were made between working horses and fossil fuel driven forwarders, shows that in the most realistic example it is a lower total cost for the working horse even if the environmental impact from the fossil fuel is not included. If the predicted cost for the CO2 emissions is included, the cost is even lower for the working horse. Compared to bigger forwarders that are more efficient the cost for the working horse is slightly higher. Even in that context the environmental and climate aspects should be considered when the use of working horses gives a multitude of positive effects, e.g. social impact.The CBA support that there should be a demand for the use of working horses for small-scale activities in the municipalities’ services as the cost for using them are lower both for the actual use and if the environmental impact are considered. According to the survey, not all municipalities know about working horses and if there exist well trained horse equipage in the municipality. This can be one reason for not more municipalities uses working horses today.From the Internet questionnaire and the personal interviews with some municipalities and working horse companies I conclude, that the marketing of the use of the working horse should be better organised and intensified. According to the survey many municipalities could imagine to use working horses and the working horse companies that were talked to were positive to work for municipalities. The climate argument should be used considerable more aggressive than today. The municipalities could use the working horse in their local climate policy to decrease the uses of fossil fuel and in that way contribute to combat climate change. As an effect, new jobs can be created both in the rural and peri-urban areas.
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