Natural areas & biodiversity
restoration planning and/or implementation
Current research & projects:
One of our students has made a handbook on the different designs and implementations of hedges between productive plots
In 2018 we started to design and restore a 10ha natural area. One of our students has made an overview of all the current species and species that could be used for ecological restoration of the area.
In 2019 one of our students identified arthropod (insect) mediated ecosystem services that benefit the farm, their providers and how they can be enhanced. A handbook was created in order to share this knowledge. The services that insects provide play an important role in the functioning of agriculture. Most well-known are pest control and pollinators. Due to land use simplification and agricultural intensification we are losing these important players rapidly. What are pollinator and pest controlling species in Southern Spain? What measures are there to enhance their abundance and maximise their activity? Can you prove that their presence has a significant beneficial effect on crop production?
Reforesting plots on the farm is part of our strategy to make the farm as a whole more regenerative. Building up the soil is one of the objectives we have. We aim to start a project to research how the organic matter content is affected by reforestation.
The same question holds for restoring soil life: Does life in the soils increase by doing natural zone restoration and reforestation?
Ecological mapping of flora, fauna and fungi of La Junquera farm: map what is already there and what is its potential function. La Junquera is a big farm in the south of Spain with more than 1100 hectares of which 350 hectares are natural zones and mountain. It would be of great interest to discover the type of ecological functions existing on the farm and how to use them to improve the ecosystem and to restore the degraded land.
What role do agricultural managed parts on the farm perform in the landscape in comparison to natural areas on the farm? This relates to the question how a landscape could be optimally designed to increase ecological (and economic) outcomes, think of reducing erosion and run-off and maximizing water catchment, but also increasing biodiversity, soil quality.
Productive list of keystone species that are beneficial for restoration or only arrive when an area is restored. It is important for farmers to know how they can monitor the health of their land by looking at keynote species and their abundance.
Analyse how and what type of hedges and borders can be implemented on farms in the South of Spain that are benefitting pollination, stop erosion and increase natural pest management.
The south of Spain knows high levels of erosion and is seeing a dramatic decrease in pollinators in the region. This has much to do with the livelihoods of the pollinators who lack space and food on farms as they become less fertile. Besides that the farms become less fertile, farmers increasingly try to keep their farms ‘clean’, meaning less natural zones and definitely no ground cover. Integrating hedges and borders on farms multiple benefits as it increases biodiversity, serves as a windbreak, stops erosion and improves soil health.
Implement (part of) the nature restoration plan that is made for the natural areas on La Junqura. On the farm of La Junquera there are 400 hectares of natural area. These natural areas have a very important function for the farm as they are biodiversity hotspots. However, due to deforestation and desertification the natural areas are degraded. A nature restoration plan has been made for the natural areas of La Junquera to restore them and bring back flourishing and biodivers natural zones.
seed bank development
Analyse the potential of wild/natural seed growing and harvesting economically and ecologically. La Junquera is an 1100 hectare farm with 300 hectares of natural areas. Growing and harvesting natural and wild seeds is a great potential market since local species are generally better adapted to local circumstances and can play an important part in finding the right species for crops used for groundcover.