The annual protest calling for the protection of the Cañadas Reales, the traditional grazing routes, brought 1,000 sheep to the Spanish capital on Sunday. Some of Madrid’s streets are still part of the cañada system, including La Castellana, and these sheep drives across the modern city is a reminder of the old practice. The cañadas are, in theory at least, legally protected from occupation and barring, but many of these routes have been devoured by property speculation.
This year, alongside farmers from across Spain shepherds from 40 countries took part, including Mongolia, India, Kenya and Mali. They have come to Spain to take part in the The World Gathering of Nomads and Transhumant Herders, which is meeting in Segovia this September, 8th – 16th
The Guardian noted “The environment ministry has warned that one-third of Spain risks being turned into desert because of over-grazing, modern farming techniques and property development….They came with a universal message – that their land and livelihoods are in the hands of governments and developers intent on modernisation at any cost. The farmers argue that as populations become more sedentary and pastoral farming dies out, so does the land, causing desertification and dwindling food supplies”.