For several years now, part of the cultivated land housed in the valleys of the municipalities of the Matarraña/Matarranya Region has been abandoned. These valleys, if they are cultivated, cause discontinuities in the vegetation creating natural firebreaks that facilitate, in case of fire, the speedy control of the fire with the least loss of forest land.
The implementation of this project is vital for sustainable development in the region. Thus, the first phase of the project was carried out in 2012, financed by the European Interreg Project "Modeland". It was considered as a pilot project.16 hectares were recovered in the municipalities of Cretas, Valderrobres, Calaceite, Ráfales and Valdeltormo.
In 2015, the second phase of the "Land Bank" project was completed, bringing the total area recovered to 48 hectares. In this second phase, action was taken in seven municipalities, recovering a total of 32 hectares and intervening in 52 plots of land belonging to 41 owners. All of them have been leased to a total of 12 cattle farmers.
This recovery and setting of agriculture farms in a state of abandonment into production was made possible thanks to the initiative and collaboration of sheep shepherds from Matarraña and the willingness of the owners of the farms to be able to develop the project.
In addition to the agricultural space, the project has affected the recovery of existing infrastructure in these affected areas. These include fountains, watering areas and access to plots.
The working methodology for the execution of the project is, once the interest in an area is manifested, that potential activity is then analysed by assessing the risk of fire, the level of degradation, the conservation of the landscape, its quality and the biodiversity of the flora and fauna. The next step is to secure commitment from landowners and the farmers or stockbreeders who will work on its maintenance. Finally, the work of adaptation and cleaning of the farms and their accesses is carried out. Roads which, as a general rule, are very deteriorated as they have not been used for many years. Maintaining the road network in good condition for the transit of vehicles is necessary for the cultivation of these plots and subsequent maintenance, but also helps to achieve greater efficiency in forest management as well as monitoring and fighting forest fires, as it allows quicker access in times of need.
The work carried out on the farms consists of clearing the undergrowth to remove herbaceous and scrub vegetation, removing small-sized forest species and dead crop trees. In addition, the vegetal material is crushed to facilitate its later incorporation to the cultivated land, like organic matter. Finally, farmers and stockbreeders use their skills to carry out deep tillage and sow species that adapt to both the soil and climatic conditions of the area. In the case of livestock herders, mainly sheep, they sow alfalfa or esparceta to make use of them by grazing "with less softened" food. For their part, farmers sow different species, always committing themselves to having their soil bare of dry vegetation during the summer months (July and August) where the probability of fire is greater.
Last update: November 2015