BirdLife: The Magazine Apr-Jun 2018 - Page 45

nature & culture Andalucían food for a natural connection Restoring saltpans More than restoring a nostalgic tradition, Salarte is a call for a pragmatic, profitable future for Andalucía that is good for birds, people and tourism. Re-open the sluice gates! sustainable rural development, but it’s not quite there yet. Agricultural intensification was seen as a solution for the region’s many farmers, but it has backfired. Some of the fields in the region look only a strong gust away from desertification, with farmers seemingly importing soil to try and keep nutrients in the ground. “This is partially a legacy of a broken Common Agricultural Policy,” says Inés Jordana, Agricultural Policy Officer, SEO/BirdLife. “This EU Policy is not fit for purpose, and the local farmer does not receive the benefit.” And it’s the same for birds: farmland birds have declined by 50% in Europe since the 1980s. “But with the right policies, agriculture can be environmentally and socially sustainable.” Not convinced by the link between nature, food and culture? Well, what better example of “you are what you eat” than flamingos. Every morning, Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus flock to the Bay of Cádiz en masse to feed. The salt-loving phytoplankton and crustaceans that they filter out of the pans with their unique bills contain pigments called carotenoids, and it turns them as pink as the water their long legs are immersed in. Likewise, there are people in Andalucía who are very connected to the land, despite a apr-jun 2018 • birdlife changing climate and the movement of people to cities. One such person is José Luis Muñoz, who is committed to making traditional fortified wine the way his grandfather did at Dehesa del Duque, Trebujena. Opening a dusty family wine bottle from 1913, he toasts to maintaining organic traditions, to landscapes being a bridge between generations, and to the Rufous-tailed Scrub-robins Cercotrichas galactotes that nest among his grapes. This bird has seen significant declines in Spain, but nature-friendly farming is helping: a recent study in Trebujena found 130 breeding males in 300 hectares of these vineyards. The wine- makers don’t mind if the robins steal the odd grape, because they also eat the insects that would otherwise devour the pesticide-free crop. What’s more, it brightens their day to see this beautiful bird flitting between the vines on their land as they go about their daily work. Thus the connection exists in some places, but there’s no reason why it can’t be rev ived in salt. So visit Andalucía, pay for local birdwatching tours, revel in migratory birds refuelling in the salty lagoons, stay in nature-aware hotels (there’s one with a giant spoonbill sculpture in the foyer), sit in restaurants overlooking bird colonies, drink organic wine, try artisanal salt- making, and buy local food and salt: it could have a bigger impact than you think. Respectful agriculture Castillo de Canena olive groves (part of an Olivares Vivos project with SEO/BirdLife) and the Trebujena organic vineyards are proudly committed to nature and shared with nesting birds fish farms With 600 ha in the Barbate marshlands, Estero Lubimar is a bird paradise. As is Veta La Palma, the largest private, natural reserve in Europe, which hosts 80% of Doñana’s bird species during migration. Both are fish farms… Rice paddies “With Doñana drying, the standing water of rice paddies could have a real role in the recovery of Marbled Teal in the area”, says Juan Martín, President of Salarte. 45