Recovering a natural oasis

Nature has a different rhythm to that of human beings. Its results are slow-cooked and the recovery of degraded spaces requires important investments and specialised work, the results of which are visible many years or decades later.

The case of the wetlands is a good example. After years of work in the area of the Laguna Larga de Villacañas, it is now emerging as an oasis - a unique landscape full of life, a refuge for fauna and flora that also serves as a tourist attraction in the region.

Fundación Global Nature (FGN) has carried out important work in this area, with essential stakeholders, from local administrations to investors and small farmers. In fact, for several years it has been buying up land in this wetland that used to be a rubbish dump. Recently, the purchase of five plots of land on the edge of the lagoon has made it possible to identify key elements for monitoring improvement. The collaboration with Aramco Europe has been fundamental and through its support, 21.5 hectares have been added. Of this area, 11.1 hectares was agricultural land with very low productivity in the 'perilagunar' (surrounding) area of the Larga de Villacañas lagoon.

FGN's objective with these actions is, in the medium term, to achieve the purchase of all the 'perilagunar' lands of this wetland in order to completely protect this natural environment and consolidate the conservation strategies in the region.

Esparto grass steppes and salt marshes

This line of work is key for FGN, as it consolidates the protection of the most threatened habitats - the esparto steppe and the Mediterranean salt steppes. These steppe wetlands provide numerous resources and services to local populations, and activities such as agriculture, livestock farming, hunting and tourism are conducted in their surroundings. Its value has not always been recognized and the lack of understanding of their importance has sometimes led to their abandonment or degradation.

The conservation strategy is in almost 30 wetlands in La Mancha where FGN has acted upon land stewardship agreements with farmers in the area. In these agreements, which are voluntary, farmers receive a biodiversity management plan based on the optimisation of resources and agri-environmental measures that benefit biodiversity and even have a positive impact on crop productivity.

The collaboration of Aramco Europe and FGN is not limited to the purchase of land and is complemented by the support of other projects. This includes; the planting of 15,000 plants that make up the 5km hedge; monitoring the evolution of the restoration for two years; promoting the construction of a new primillar on land under FGN custody; giving awareness talks to more than 150 children from schools in the area.