Iberianature news

Articles in ‘Iberianature news’

Environmental volunteer work in Spain

November 27th, 2008

A friend of mine, Anna Gallés, is helping out with the Spanish version of iberianature – naturaiberica. At the moment she’s compiling this very useful directory of opportunities for environmental volunteer work in Spain. A wide range of activities is available from with working black vultures in the Balearics to helping amphibians in Catalonia. I won’t translate these activities into English as some limited knowledge of Spanish is always going to be necessary to join up to these programmes, but if anyone has any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to email me.

Anna Gallés is a natural history painter with a lovely eye for detail Visit Anna’s blog and see more of her work

Iberianature nominated for Spanish WWF Panda Awards

October 20th, 2008

Iberianature has been nominated for the Spanish WWF Panda Awards. If you like iberianature please vote for us here.

Latest from the blogs

September 3rd, 2008

Latest posts from Simon and Lucy which you may not have come across. Simon looks here are at the geology which may have helped inspire Guadí to build La Sagrada Familia, and Lucy tells the tale here of the last days of bee-eaters before they fly south.

New iberianature organisation

August 8th, 2008

At the behest of several people, I’ve begun the long slog of re-organising all the old html and new wordpress material into a series of channels (mammals, birds, climate, etc). I’m also cross referencing heavily the iberianatureforum. So far only the “channel” on mammals is more or less finished. Note the pages on bears, lynx and wolves are channels in their own right with specific news feeds

Eventually these channels will probably become the main entrance into iberianature along with news feeds.

New blog by Simon Rice

July 25th, 2008

I’m pleased announce that Simon Rice, another iberianatureforum stalwart has just begun his own blog on iberianature. Simon is an excellent writer with an eye for the quirkier side of things, and is, like myself, a geographer who enjoys looking for patterns in landscapes, and interplay between geography, history and nature. He divides his time between Tarragona city and Fígols de Tremps, a hamlet in the Leridan Pyrenees so he’ll be concentrating on southern and western Catalonia. Here’s an extract from his first post, illustrated with the photo above.

What is it that makes a landscape so stunning? Certainly not sheer size as in this case the valley is dwarfed by the higher ranges just to the north and the two local big sierras, Boumort and Montsec. Walking the mile or so (a couple of kilometres at most) of farm track towards the Obac de Serradell, the last flat, cultivated space at the head of the valley, it struck me that here quite the opposite was the case; even though the landscape is big, even by Spanish standards, it is small enough to be constantly changing as I walked up the valley, with new vistas and facets emerging with every turn. Plus there is a lovely juxtaposition between the bare cliffs and the wooded slopes that reach up to them from the valley floor. Meanwhile, the domesticity of the immediate surroundings, with their rolling meadows and quaint bordes, or field barns, contrasted with the primordial appearance of the dense forest and the heavily eroded slopes.

Read Simon’s blog

New blog on iberianature by Lucy Brzoska

June 30th, 2008

I’m pleased to announce that iberianatureforum stalwart Lucy Brzoska has started her own blog on iberianature called straightforwardly enough, Lucy’s Blog. Lucy will probably concentrate on Barcelona and environs with forays into the Catalan Pyrenees and her beloved Leonese mountains.

Check out this frankly excellent post by Lucy, on Barcelona’s best kept secret, the heronry, perched in the trees above the city’s zoo. Read Citadel of herons

In the near future Simon Rice will be joining in with his own blog from the deepest hinterlands of Catalonia.

Wind farms and nature in Spain

June 18th, 2008

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?

Greater Flamingos plummet at Fuente de Piedra

June 15th, 2008

Excellent and very worrying post by Peter of Spanishbirds on the forum

Greater Flamingo first colonised Fuente de Piedra back in 1963 and has since made the area a star attraction for many visitors. With a maximum count of some 34,000 birds being present in the past then it is not surprising why many people want to make this area a ‘must see’ site during their stay in Andalusia….

It is sad to report that the numbers of Flamingos present at Fuente de Piedra are now down to 4 individuals and that non-breeding has been drastically affected by abuses of self interest and the lack of managed water resources…. Read the full post on the forum

Iberianature forum sponsored wildlife project

May 20th, 2008

I’m pleased to announce the first iberianatureforum sponsored wildlife project. The plan is to support the conservation of the endangered Southern Midwife toad (Alytes dickhilleni – above photo from sierradebaza.org.) The idea has arisen from a visit members of the forum made last month to the Zoo Botanico in Jerez de la Frontera, the best in Spain in terms of conservation of local species, and has been organised by joint forum-owner Clive whom I quote here.

  • The zoo is in the process or requesting permission to collect from the wild an endangered species of amphibian for captive breeding and release and we (The Forum) can help out with the project.
  • Alytes dickhilleni is a species of Midwife toad that only occurs in the Southern part of Spain hence its common name of “Betic / Southern Midwife Toad” after the “Baetic” mountain range in the Andalucía. (In Spanish it’s a Sapo partero bético).
  • The project needs some large glass terrariums (5) in order to house and breed the toads that cost (the terrariums) about 150 Euros each. In return for our help the Iberianature Forum will be named as sponsors and our collaboration will be mentioned in all the results returned from the project. (We will be famous at last!)
  • The community of iberianature has come a long way over the last year or so and we have all contributed to an excellent resource about the natural world of Iberia but this, for me at least, is an excellent opportunity for us as a group to help in a practical way some people who are really working hard to protect their environment.

If you like iberianature and you would like to contribute to this project please send me or Clive an email.

See on the forum

RUNA

April 17th, 2008

Over the next two days (18-19th April) I’ve been invited to attend what promises to be one of the most interesting meetings in recent Spanish conservation history. The seminar is entitled “Conservation of Biodiversity and Rural Development” and is organised by the RUNA project under auspices of the Fundación Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente. Some 40 representatives from an array of Spain’s leading conservation and rural groups will be attendance along with experts in e-portals and information technology. The aim is to help to define the RUNA (rural – natural) project, which seeks to find ways of combining rural life with the natural world, and hand back the custody of the latter to the people who live in isolated rural areas, and who, by accident or design, over the centuries managed to foster such a rich biodiversity. This is to be a partnership between those who live and work in the rural world (farmers, hunters, foresters, etc) and those who work in natural history (biologists, wardens and environmentalists), turning biodiversity into an economic asset which can foster sustainable development and bring young people back. Benigno Varillas, founder of Quercus, and the person in charge of the project notes, ”The rural as we know it is coming to an end. It needs reconversion… Nature conservation stands at a crossroads… As the rural population grows older and EU money dries up, the rural world must change.

The Internet platform will be formed by several distinct areas. These include (there are more):

  1. Public and private forums and blogs. Some of the forums will be closed to the public as they will deal with sensitive information discussed by experts.
  2. The division of Spanish territory into areas each with a threatened species which will function as a flagship species around which to concentrate efforts (conservation, IT, education, business). The first of these flagship species is to be the brown bear.
  3. A digital book covering all issues affecting Spanish nature.
  4. A single-topic magazine sold in kiosks covering all aspects of each of the flagship species.

Some questions:

  1. The project is very ambitious. How to organise so much information and so many people with so many different ends.
  2. How to make these admirable digital contents useful for the real projects in villages and the countryside. That is, how to transform information into a real economic asset for the inhabitants of the rural areas, especially those least visited, and to turn their protection into an economic asset, and provide a real alternative to the attraction of mass development (skiing, golf, residential estates for the rich. industrial agriculture) in some areas and to the rapidly dying communities in many, many more. I repeat. We must offer real alternatives. The project must in the end be useful for the inhabitants of these areas and not just for the usual suspects (like me).
  3. How to get everybody to work together. As Roberto Hartasánchez notes in this month’s Quercus, it is not only farmers, hunters and who are in conflict, but often pointless infighting between conservation groups themselves. As a Spanish friend recently commentated, the Reinos de Taifa come to mind.

A few ideas off the top of my head:

  1. Rural tourism was seen several years ago as the panacea to all ills but in its present model of just offering accommodation it has reached a saturation point in many areas, with properties being full for a few key dates of the year while the rest of the year owners are faced with very low occupancy levels. Rural tourism must be promoted – as it often is – with additional activities or as part of a route if it is offer more. I’m stating the obvious I know.
  2. Conversion of activities – as an example I heard yesterday in Grazalema- with the end of EU grants a goat farmer is going to convert to horse riding activities. But the land will no longer be grazed which will affect the landscape and for example the orchid biodiversity.
  3. Setting up/strengthening national commercialisation channels for agro products to bring the produce to the cities. Although the production costs will remain the same, distribution costs could be reduced. Perhaps a national brand “Producción de Biodiversidad” Agreements with large supermarket chains in return for improving their corporate image. Health food shops are not enough to bring about a revolution.
  4. Broadband

More on this soon.