Dehesas & Montados in the Iberian Peninsula

The ecosystem of the Dehesas and Montados is unique. When well managed, they show a balance between biodiversity and sustainable agriculture that benefits the rural economy, prevents destruction of the land through soil erosion and wildfires and continues a legacy stretching back generations. The local community, WWF Spain, Trashumancia y Naturaleza and ANP|WWF are working together to conserve the Spanish Imperial Eagle and Iberian Lynx and protect wildlife habitats for endangered species.

Rural entrepreneurs produce goods of the highest quality, such as Iberian ham, cork, wool, milk and cheese. We want people to truly value these high quality sustainable products that don’t cost the earth and are truly worth paying a bit more for.

Photo: Dehesas © Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita / WWF España

Dehesas & Montados in the Iberian Peninsula

The ecosystem of the Dehesas and Montados is unique. When well managed, they show a balance between biodiversity and sustainable agriculture that benefits the rural economy, prevents destruction of the land through soil erosion and wildfires and continues a legacy stretching back generations. The local community, WWF Spain, Trashumancia y Naturaleza and ANP|WWF are working together to conserve the Spanish Imperial Eagle and Iberian Lynx and protect wildlife habitats for endangered species.

Rural entrepreneurs produce goods of the highest quality, such as Iberian ham, cork, wool, milk and cheese. We want people to truly value these high quality sustainable products that don’t cost the earth and are truly worth paying a bit more for.

Dehesas © Ofelia de Pablo & Javier Zurita / WWF España

Lack of natural regeneration, intensification of livestock and the decline of the trees have become an epidemic for oaks and cork oaks that are dying in huge numbers. When this is combined with the increasing numbers of people leaving the countryside, we need urgent action because without human intervention we will lose the Dehesas and Montados. It’s not just intervention on the ground that is needed. National and regional policies on land management and mobile pastoralists must change too.

Conservation of Drovers’ Roads

The 6000 year old practice of seasonal movement of herds to summer pastures in the mountains when water becomes scarce and their return to wintering areas in late autumn is called transhumance. The ecological impact of the gradual abandonment of this practice has resulted in overgrazing, loss of trees and grasslands, species extinction and wildfires. The impact of climate change with heightened extremes, makes life difficult when water becomes scarce and increasingly difficult to find.

The movement of the herds fertilizes the soil, spreading grass seed over long distances and helps adaptation to climate change as well as the creation of carbon sinks in the ground. The absence of livestock from grazing areas for long periods of the year allows regeneration of the vegetation and the survival of wild plant species. Spain is currently the only country that has a network of protected ways for the movement of herds, reserving for them 1% of its national territory. The adoption of similar legislation in other countries with nomadic or transhumant pastoralists could contribute to the survival of this way of life which is of enormous ecological and social importance.

We have seen migration routes fragmented by roads and urban development which is why it is vital we continue to engage with national, local and European governments on the rights of transhumant shepherds, the conservation of the drovers’ roads, infrastructure, water points, signposting and the creation of a national registry. We have a team of experts on environmental law to support legal action to uphold transhumant herders’ rights and the protection of drovers’ roads and pastures.

Photo: © Trashumancia y Naturaleza

Coca (Segovia) | Dehesas & Montados in the Iberian Peninsula

Conservation of Drovers’ Roads

The 6000 year old practice of seasonal movement of herds to summer pastures in the mountains when water becomes scarce and their return to wintering areas in late autumn is called transhumance. The ecological impact of the gradual abandonment of this practice has resulted in overgrazing, loss of trees and grasslands, species extinction and wildfires. The impact of climate change with heightened extremes, makes life difficult when water becomes scarce and increasingly difficult to find.

The movement of the herds fertilizes the soil, spreading grass seed over long distances and helps adaptation to climate change as well as the creation of carbon sinks in the ground. The absence of livestock from grazing areas for long periods of the year allows regeneration of the vegetation and the survival of wild plant species. Spain is currently the only country that has a network of protected ways for the movement of herds, reserving for them 1% of its national territory. The adoption of similar legislation in other countries with nomadic or transhumant pastoralists could contribute to the survival of this way of life which is of enormous ecological and social importance.

We have seen migration routes fragmented by roads and urban development which is why it is vital we continue to engage with national, local and European governments on the rights of transhumant shepherds, the conservation of the drovers’ roads, infrastructure, water points, signposting and the creation of a national registry. We have a team of experts on environmental law to support legal action to uphold transhumant herders’ rights and the protection of drovers’ roads and pastures.

Photo: © Trashumancia y Naturaleza

Proud of Rural Entrepreneurs

With local practitioners in Spain and Portugal we’re working to protect and regenerate trees and land; to develop sustainable livelihoods that benefit both people and planet. With people like António Gonçalves Ferreira whose cork oak woodlands in Portugal produce sustainable cork, pine cones, mushrooms and wood. They raise cattle and have a plant nursery to promote biodiversity and the sustainability for forest and food production. One of the major benefits is the water cycle regulation and avoidance of soil erosion, crucial for maintaining nutrients in the soil.

© Ofelia de Pablo y Javier Zurita – WWF España

© Ofelia de Pablo y Javier Zurita – WWF España

Tree Regeneration in Dehesas, Los Pedroches, Spain

Young farmer Rafael Muñoz and his family are third generation producers committed to combining traditional practices with science, technology and innovation. Rafael won the ‘Young Sustainable Farmer’ Award. After seeing holm oaks dying in their pastures and the rapid decline of the dehesa with the support of WWF, the University of Córdoba and the Institute of Agrarian Training of Andalusia (IFAPA), they’ve developed good practices of tree management to guarantee tree renewal (planting and seeding), protection of the small trees, tree diversification and disease prevention.

They’re breeding Iberian pigs and raising pure merino sheep and the retinta cow to conserves these species and improve pasture and soil fertilisation. The family are committed to producing high quality meat (lamb, pork and veal) respecting the responsible use of resources and animal welfare.

By installing nest boxes on their farms, planting shrubs and maintaining stone walls for insects they’re naturally combatting pests and diseases and supporting the ecological cycles of birds and small mammals for the dispersal and seeding of acorns. They’re becoming part of rural tourism too with three farmhouses visitors can stay on.

Small Choices, Big Difference

“When an oak tree dies I feel a big shame. Its given acorns for the pigs and shadow for the lambs. I feel shame but also lot of indignation because the profitability of Dehesas is very limited; it’s a great effort that must be valued by public policies and by society.”

Rafael Muñoz, Young Sustainable Farmer Award Winner
Dehesas, Los Pedroches, Spain

Make the right choices for people and planet

Be #RootedEveryday
#MedFoodHeroes

© Ofelia de Pablo y Javier Zurita – WWF España
Ganado en la Dehesa © Jorge Sierra

Small Choices, Big Difference

“When an oak tree dies I feel a big shame. Its given acorns for the pigs and shadow for the lambs. I feel shame but also lot of indignation because the profitability of Dehesas is very limited; it’s a great effort that must be valued by public policies and by society.”

Rafael Muñoz, Young Sustainable Farmer Award Winner
Dehesas, Los Pedroches, Spain

Make the right choices for people and planet

Be #RootedEveryday
#MedFoodHeroes

© Ofelia de Pablo y Javier Zurita – WWF España
Ganado en la Dehesa © Jorge Sierra

Grazing System of Holistic Management in Extremadura, Spain

Brothers Pedro and Juan Luis Domínguez Campa are extensive livestock farmers who produce high quality lamb and Iberian pork at Mundos Nuevos (New Worlds) farm in Badajoz (Extremadura in south west Spain). They’re regenerating agriculture across 700 hectares after realising their soil had lost almost all its fertility due to decades of conventional and intensive soil husbandry in the Dehesa.

They’re using redileo techniques by herding together sheep and goats at night in a portable enclosed fence so pastures recover and soil fertilisation improves. They rear pigs and lambs which graze in the extensive dehesa pastures, feeding on acorns and crops grown on the farm.  Their aim is to produce high quality dehesa lamb, pork and ham, that are products with great market potential. By using their livestock to fertilize the land they avoid unnecessary ploughing and make the best use of rainfall to minimise erosion. They try not to use any chemical products and support the cycles of cultivation and natural life through insects, diversity of a large amount of animals and maintaining predators from the ground to the sky which makes the complex system resilient against pests.

They’re work is threatened by the European Common Agriculture Policy that requires part of their land must arable and must be ploughed and seeded annually in order to receive the CAP payment which damages soil regeneration and doesn’t recognise the value of naturally rich mixed farming approach.

Grazing System of Holistic Management in Extremadura, Spain

Brothers Pedro and Juan Luis Domínguez Campa are extensive livestock farmers who produce high quality lamb and Iberian pork at Mundos Nuevos (New Worlds) farm in Badajoz (Extremadura in south west Spain) who are regenerating agriculture across 700 hectares after realising their soil had lost almost all its fertility due to decades of conventional and intensive soil husbandry in the Dehesa.

They’re using redileo techniques by herding together sheep and goats at night in a portable enclosed fence so pastures recover and soil fertilisation improves. They rear pigs and lambs which graze in the extensive dehesa pastures, feeding on acorns and crops grown on the farm.  Their aim is to produce high quality dehesa lamb, pork and ham, that are products with great market potential. By using their livestock to fertilize the land they avoid unnecessary ploughing and make the best use of rainfall to minimise erosion. They try not to use any chemical products and support the cycles of cultivation and natural life through insects, diversity of a large amount of animals and maintaining predators from the ground to the sky which makes the complex system resilient against pests.

They’re work is threatened by the European Common Agriculture Policy that requires part of their land must arable and must be ploughed and seeded annually in order to receive the CAP payment which damages soil regeneration and doesn’t recognise the value of naturally rich mixed farming approach.

Constantly Ploughing Damages the Soil

Farmers Pedro and Juan want to regenerate the soil in the Dehesas and produce high quality food that is good for both people and planet.

Stop the CAP

The European Common Agriculture Policy needs to support sustainable farmers not punish them.

Be #RootedEveryday
#MedFoodHeroes

© Ofelia de Pablo y Javier Zurita – WWF España
© Jorge Bartolome, WWF

Constantly Ploughing Damages the Soil

Farmers Pedro and Juan want to regenerate the soil in the Dehesas and produce high quality food that is good for both people and planet.

Stop the CAP

The European Common Agriculture Policy needs to support sustainable farmers not punish them.

Be #RootedEveryday
#MedFoodHeroes

© Ofelia de Pablo y Javier Zurita – WWF España
© Jorge Bartolome, WWF

ANP|WWF’s project Green Heart of Cork (GHoC) aims to financially reward landholders who contribute to the improvement of fundamental services that ecosystems provide us: carbon sequestration, soil formation, regulation of the water cycle and biodiversity preservation. GHoC rewards good farming and forest practices at the heart of cork oak woodlands in Portugal. This project establishes a platform for companies to pay for ecosystem services and compensate for their natural resources usage. Coca-Cola was the first supporter of GHoC, in 2011, as they were dependent on water quality of the region – one of their factories (Refrige) was sourcing water from the largest aquifer in the Iberian Peninsula and, to keep good quality, they wanted to protect the existent water and also return part of it to nature, as it is a resource of vital importance to their business. Working together with forest associations like APFC and ANSUB, GHoC has continued to contribute to better forest management and nature conservation.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2021, the project is currently supported by Jerónimo Martins and Botanica by Air Wick.

Photos: Rui Barreira / ANP|WWF

ANP|WWF’s project Green Heart of Cork (GhoC) aims to financially reward landholders who contribute to the improvement of fundamental services that ecosystems provide us: carbon sequestration, soil formation, regulation of the water cycle and biodiversity preservation. GHoC rewards good farming and forest practices at the heart of cork oak woodlands in Portugal. This project establishes a platform for companies to pay for ecosystem services and compensate for their natural resources usage. Coca-Cola was the first supporter of GHoC, in 2011, as they were dependent on water quality of the region – one of their factories (Refrige) was sourcing water from the largest aquifer in the Iberian Peninsula and, to keep good quality, they wanted to protect the existent water and also return part of it to nature, as it is a resource of vital importance to their business. Working together with forest associations like APFC and ANSUB, GHoC has continued to contribute to better forest management and nature conservation.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2021, the project is currently supported by Jeronimo Martins and Botanica by Airwick.

Photos: Rui Barreira / ANP|WWF

AMNC partner, ANP|WWF, works with forest associations to contribute to better forest management and nature conservation of cork oak woodlands | Dehesas & Montados in the Iberian Peninsula
Green Heart of Cork project promotes good farming and forest practices of cork oak woodlands in Portugal | Dehesas & Montados in the Iberian Peninsula
AMNC partner, ANP|WWF, works with forest associations to contribute to better forest management and nature conservation of cork oak woodlands | Dehesas & Montados in the Iberian Peninsula
Green Heart of Cork project promotes good farming and forest practices of cork oak woodlands in Portugal | Dehesas & Montados in the Iberian Peninsula

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This project is a collaboration between AMNC partners Trashumancia y Naturaleza (TyN), WWF Spain, and ANP|WWF.

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