The Western Iberian Peninsula contains one of Europe’s largest natural areas. A total of 2.5 million hectares stretching across the provinces of Salamanca, Cáceres and Zamora and the middle of Portugal, and home to species like the cinereous vulture, the black stork and the Bonelli’s eagle, as well as a multitude of habitats: among them, holm oak dehesa, river gallery forests, rock walls and temporary Mediterranean ponds. Fundación Naturaleza y Hombre is working to ensure that its human inhabitants remain on the land, engaging in sustainable activities.
This is a large but not very fertile terrain, with a harsh climate, far from major cities, and with no major transport infrastructures. These characteristics have favored the region’s robust state of conservation, yet some serious challenges hang over its future; foremost among them demographic ageing and depopulation. For, as Sánchez observes, “the history of this land is closely bound in with human settlements. The dehesa, in particular, is a landscape sculpted by man over the course of the centuries.”
For Fundación Naturaleza y Hombre “this zone is in urgent need of the kind of intense, active, coordinated management it is currently lacking, due to earlier failures to arrive at a coordinated approach.”