Joy and gratitude upon receiving this award from the European Region of the International Federation of Landscape Architects(IFLA Europe) for the photo ‘Uncorking in the dehesas of Extremadura’.
It is part of the collection that we compose in each season, with each treasure of our territory Extremadura and that we share with you in networks usually.
Through a competition, participants from all over Europe were asked to submit a photograph depicting the main features of the traditional agricultural, forestry and livestock landscape, landscape. Entries were evaluated according to the following criteria:
- Relevance of the entry to the theme of the contest.
- Level of importance and uniqueness of the presented rural landscape
- Creativity expressed through photos and description
And we, proud of our cork oak cultural landscape… sent this photo to the contest… in which we were lucky enough to receive the first prize!
The long history of human settlement in the Mediterranean Basin and the prevailing climatic constraints have forced the testing of multiple forest use formulas capable of maintaining a mosaic of landscapes and productions within one of the current biodiversity hotspots of the planet.
The most notable example of this type of practice is found in the dehesas or wooded pastures of holm oak (Quercus ilex) and cork oak (Quercus suber), which are officially the most extended High Natural Value Agricultural System in Europe (with 4.5 million hectares), constituting an example of multi-productive exploitation valued worldwide for its sustainability.
These silvopastoral systems produce high quality livestock and unique forest products: firewood, charcoal, cork, honey, cheese, game and Iberian pork products.
Moreover, the maintenance of the tree layer generates unique additional products (especially cork and acorns) and reinforces fundamental environmental services, in cultural landscapes with a strong cultural imprint sustained by the local and ethnographic knowledge of the rural communities that forge, care for and rationally exploit this landscape.
In the case of cork oak forests, their natural domain is rather small, about 2.5 million hectares, 27% of which are located in Spain, mainly concentrated in the southwestern quadrant of the Iberian Peninsula.
With the arrival of the heat, in the summer months, the ritual of “la saca” begins in the pastures of Extremadura, the extraction of the cork planks that will later be transformed into granules and stoppers, which will be distributed to all corners of the world, ready to accompany human beings in millions of toasts and sustainable construction materials.
A traditional activity carried out in family groups and passed down from generation to generation.