Meeting of Pastors in Alcóntar: Recovering old teachings to face current problems

This Saturday, in the Espacio Escénico Adolfo Suárez in Hijate (Alcóntar), a conference on Pyrenean Herbivorism and the assembly of the Association for the Mediterranean Mountain took place.

The day was spent with working tables whose conclusions marked the needs and concerns of farmers, including the loss of livestock, access to pastures, the struggle for land, water shortages, improvement of pastures or lack of human resources to continue with the trade.

This was followed by an enriching meeting with the shepherds as protagonists, at a time when their collaboration can be decisive in the face of the risk of forest fires.

Also present at the event were the Government Delegate, Aránzazu Martín, the Secretary General for Agriculture and native of Alcóntar, Manuel Gómez Galera, the Mayor of Alcóntar, Antonio Ramón Salas, Adoración Blanque, President of ASAJA Almería, as well as members of the Asociación de Pastores por el Monte Mediterráneo, an inter-professional group that supports sustainable, viable and beneficial extensive livestock farming for the rural forest environment.

“The assembly rotates”, explained the president of the Association, Fidel Delgado, who was grateful for the presence of producers from Almeria, Granada and Malaga, who attended the meeting “in spite of the complicated dates due to the lambing season”. “The farmers tell us what their needs are and we try to channel them to the different administrations,” said the head of the association.

“Fires are not bad, it’s the forest fires that are bad”.

With these words the delegate of the Government of the Junta de Andalucía, referred to one of the problems facing the countryside.

For the Government delegate the shepherds have a very clear objective, “to give greater support and attention to the extensive livestock farming sector, necessary for its strengthening and adaptation to new social demands, such as quality products linked to the territory and environmental benefits such as the reduction of the risk of fires or the promotion of biodiversity”. “A task in which you will undoubtedly have the support of the Andalusian Government”.

“First they kicked us out of the mountains, then they came to make us clear the brush and now they want us to burn,” say the farmers, not without reason, who want to collaborate but with clear rules of the game. That is why they look to the administration and propose a “Pastoralism 2.0” fire prevention plan, using technology, drones, GPS systems in the animals, so that they can draw firebreak areas, as the shepherds did in the past, but interacting with INFOCA.

The COMPÁS Project (Pastando el Combustible), presented by Ana Belén Robles, member of the Consejo Superior de Investigación Científica -CSIC-, proposes Pyrrhic Herbivorism, as a way of carrying out controlled burning, grazing and regeneration of the land.

Undoubtedly one of the challenges of the land, which also has to do with fixing the population in the territory. Manuel Gómez, who is familiar with the area, pointed out that there used to be 17 shepherds here and now there is only one left.

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