Experiencing a Healthy Ecosystem in Spanish Altiplano

Author: Ashleigh Brown | Published: November 6, 2017

I have been in the remote area of the Murcian Altiplano for two months. It has been a life changing experience, living in an area so degraded. Every day the sheep walk past our bedroom window, followed closely by a huge cloud of dust that used to be fertile soil. You notice the dryness everywhere. My skin, hair, throat, everything feels parched, desperate for moisture. And the reasons for this dryness are everywhere too. Huge ploughs litter the farm, and it is a regular sight to see tractors, pulling these ploughs in the fields, also surrounded by huge clouds of dust.

All the life in the soil died long ago. Going for a walk around these parts is a surreal experience. It is often deafeningly quiet, it almost doesn’t seem real.

However, there are still small patches of land that have not been ploughed or over grazed. They are mini oases, where rivers flow, birds sing, butterflies flutter by, and wild boar roam. These patches give me a sense of what the damaged land could become, and motivate me to get up in the morning and continue with this mission.

Last weekend, we decided to venture into one of the largest patches of in-tact land in the area, a small mountain which the locals call ‘El Gato’ (the cat). We left the house just after dawn, and travelled as the sun rose to the foot of the mountain.

To get there, we had to walk across ploughed fields, with soil as pale and fine as sand. However, once we got to the foot of the mountain, Spanish Oak trees, surrounding by wild juniper, rosemary, thyme and a host of other plants were happily growing, giving homes to birds, insects, wild boar, squirrels, partridges, and more.