Well, it looks like the Tablas will be saved after all!, The mighty Coca Cola company are throwing their not inconsiderable weight behind the protection and future of these wetlands….
Do we think that Coca Cola can do a better job than 20 odd years of National Park status and hundreds of millions of funding already from EU, local and national levels?.. Time will tell but I find the whole idea really weird..
The last chapter of the sad demise of the Tablas de Damiel, once one of Spain’s most important birding sites, makes depressing reading. The underground fossil peat deposits had been on fire for several weeks. The lagoons have suffered over the years from the building of thousands of agricultural irrigation wells which have caused the water table to drop to the level of the peat, which was then heated up over the summer and started to self-combust. El País
The Guardian also reported on this story at the time.
Spanish wetlands shrouded in smoke as overfarming dries out peat. National park which was once a ‘paradise’ now on fire and churning out tonnes of CO2. They are meant to be Spain’s most important inland wetlands, but yesterday the lagoons at Las Tablas de Daimiel national park were not just dry, they were burning. Stilted walkways stood on baked earth and rowing boats lay stranded on the ground. Observation huts revealed no birds, just an endless stretch of reeds rooted in cracked mud.
And the iberianature forum is thundering. Here’s Clive on the topic “This will certainly be the first national park in Spain to be declassified due to a complete failure on the part of government, local authorities and local people…. And what next… Do we see Doñana go the same way in 10 years? What did they do with all the money…. The whole situation is a bad joke…. And what next? Once de classified it will be a fine place for a casino city maybe? Golf courses…. have to kick start the economy you know….”
The Wine Harvest (La Vendimia) was painted by Goya between 1786 and 1787. The painting’s other name The Autumn (El Otoño) is in reference to the fact that it forms part of a series of four paintings depicting the seasons of the year. The landscape is thought by some to depict Campo de Borja, in the province of Zaragoza, famous for its wines, and located at the foot on the imposing Moncayo, the highest peak in the Sistema Ibérica. See also The landscape of Goya 1
A couple of articles on wind farms and their effect on nature and wildlife
One of Spain’s last untouched landscapes, the Sierra de Gata in north-western Extremadura, may shortly be inundated with up to 19 wind farms. The Times
And this piece by Steve West on his very nicely designed Birding in Spain site. “Should the inhabitants of Terra Alta, Montsià and Matarranya, with the great natural and scenic wealth of Els Ports, the serres of Pàndols and Cavalls, the wonderful via verda, the rivers Matarranya, Estrets, Algars (the cleanest in the Mediterranean basin)…should they let it all go and allow the hills to be plastered with wind turbines? ” Birding and sustainable tourism versus windfarms
This topic is also currently being hotly debated on the forum here. Renewable Energy, but at any price?
I enjoyed reading this piece on the Tramontana wind written for Iberianature by Francis Barrett as part of his Guide to the Ampurdan. In Spain, Tramontana refers to the wind which blows NE-SW across the Ampurdan region of Girona. (Painting above by Fransesc Gimeno: An Ampordan village. Note Montgrí in the background – 1918)
…. the strong Tramontana wind is a fairly regular feature of the region in all seasons except summer. This variant of the French Mistral wind blows NE-SW across the landscape for 3-12 days at a time, and can be bitter when the Pyranees are covered in snow and ice. Taking shelter indoors avoids the icy blast, but not the shrill moan as the wind swirls around corners and down chimneys to make fireplace flames flicker and die. The English proverb “red sky at night – shepherds’ delight; red sky in the morning – sailors’ warning” is reversed in the Ampurdan; glorious sunsets signal the imminence of the Tramontana, whereas beautiful dawns are the norm.
The influence of the Tramontana can be seen in the rural landscape and architecture, with walls and lines of beech (sic) trees designed as windbreaks, and open arches at the top level of old farmhouses to dry stored crops. The people of the region tend to live in harmony with the local climactic vagaries, but the Tramontana affects their behaviour most of all, making the children giddy on the first day and rendering everybody depressed when it blows for a week. After 10 days of Tramontana, the murder rate goes up and both people and animals have been known to commit suicide. Catalonia celebrates eight traditional winds, but only the people of the Ampurdan, or Empordanesos, are said to be tocats per al vent – “touched”or mentally affected by the wind.
Around 1881 Gal Dali moved to Barcelona. According to family tradition the main reason for this decision was that he found he could no longer stand the tramuntana. This fierce north wind, as integral a part of life in the Upper Emporda as the rain in London, has to be experienced to be believed. Dry and bitterly cold in winter, it roars and blasts its way down through the passes of the Pyrenees (hence tramuntana, `from across the mountains’), sweeping the sky clear of clouds, and, hitting the Emporda, forces the cypresses almost to their knees, smashes flowerpots, snaps television masts and coats the cliffs of Cape Creus white with salt lashed from the waves. The tramuntana blows regularly at over 130 kilometres an hour, and has been known to overturn railway carriages and hurl cars into the sea. At Port-Bou, on the French frontier, it can be so violent that the paramilitary Civil Guard used to enjoy a special dispensation allowing them to climb to their quarters upstairs on all-fours: a position that would normally have been considered undignified in the extreme for a force of law and order famed for its machismo.
The tramuntana can affect the emotions as brutally as it does the sea and countryside, and is a constant topic of conversation in this region. The Empordanese are known for their intransigence (the Dalis were no exception), and one authority on the area has attributed this to their having to push constantly against the wind. Anyone a little dotty in these parts, or with a tendency suddenly to flare up, is likely to be labelled atramuntanat (`touched by the tramuntana’), and in the past crimes passionnels committed when the wind was raging were half-way to being condoned. As for depressives, they can be driven to absolute despair by a prolonged bout of the wind–and the bouts may last for eight or ten days, especially in winter. It is even alleged that the tramuntana is responsible for suicides, especially in Cadaques. The protagonist of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story, `Tramuntana’, is such a victim. It may well be that Gal Dali feared that, if he stayed on in the village, he was in mortal danger.
The wind also lends its name to the Serra de Tramuntana in Mallorca.
According to Wikipedia. the word tramontana comes from the Latin “transmontanus” and the Italian “tramontana,” meaning not just “across the mountains” but also “The North Star” (literally the star “above the mountains,”)
Spanish Wood Pasture: Origin and Durability of an Historical Wooded Landscape in Mediterranean Europe
Spanish dehesas, the most extensive wood pastures in Mediterranean Europe, are a vivid example for demonstrating that the impact of rural communities on forests has not always been a bad thing. Environmental history is vital for understanding this cultural landscape. This article first analyses the origin of the dehesa. The border logic and the medieval Reconquest are elements that undoubtedly played a decisive part in its genesis; but, for the significance of Roman influence in Spain, it is necessary to consider the question of the possible existence of dehesas in Antiquity. The second aspect concerns the spreading of this landscape from the Middle Ages onwards. Dehesas are usually linked to the large properties owned by military orders, but most of all the spreading of the dehesa was favoured by the rise of transhumance from the thirteenth century onwards. Finally, the article emphasises that the durability of the Spanish wood pasture can be explained by a combination of several factors: insecurity along the border, the fact that transhumance was the most important industry in Spain for many centuries, and the protective laws adopted by the rural communities in order to protect their dehesas. Vincent Clément See also dehesa
I loved this documentary about Antonio Machado in Soria shown on Escarabajo Verde last Sunday.
Ian Gibson explains how Machado’s visit to Soria was to have a great impact on the poet’s work. The poems he wrote here were published as “Campos de Castilla”, a collection lyricising the beauty of the Castilian countryside. His first work in Soria expressed the poverty and ruggedness of the region, but his writings were to soften when he met, fell in love and married Leonor Izquierdo, daughter of the owners of the boarding house Machado was staying in. Sadly, Leonor soon fell ill and died from tuberculosis, just a few weeks after the publication of Campos de Castilla. Machado was devastated and left Soria, never to return. He moved to Baeza where he wrote a series of poems dealing with the death of Leonor which were added to a new edition of Campos de Castilla published in 1916 , which now saw the Sorian landscape full of melancholy and sadness. The documentary also mentions the articles Machado wrote for the local press expressing an early environmental concern and denouncing the burning of pinewoods for pasture. (Escarabajo Verde, TVE2 from Forestman)
Fields of Soria (extract)
Hills of silver plate,
grey heights, dark red rocks
through which the Duero bends
its crossbow arc
round Soria, shadowed oaks,
stone dry-lands, naked mountains,
white roads and river poplars,
twilights of Soria, warlike and mystical,
today I feel, for you,
in my hearts depths, sadness,
sadness of love! Fields of Soria,
where it seems the stones have dreams,
you go with me! Hills of silver plate,
grey heights, dark red rocks.
It’s a worldwide phenomenon – whether bears investigating trash cans in the US, coyotes roaming New York, or boars exploring Barcelona – wildlife and human territories are increasingly overlapping. Near Vallvidrera railway station, on the outskirts of Barcelona, a mother boar availed herself of the contents of a litter bin in broad daylight. While two […]