Reversing the Spanish trajectory towards desertification, with Sara Garcia

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In the process of researching the area that I now call home, and working to understand the context and history of the land, I’ve uncovered some fascinating information. The Iberian peninsula made up mostly of Spain with Portugal along the Atlanitc coast and Andorra in the Pyrenees mountains has been dramatically transformed through thousands of years of human history, to say nothing of prehistoric and geological times. Caves and monuments point to some of the earliest evidence of human habitation in Europe. Empires from the Romans through the Visigoths and the Umayyad caliphate as well as various ruling families of the peninsula have all left their mark on the culture and of course, the land.

The Spanish empire fueled the colonization of the Americas and the immense sequestration of resources and wealth that followed. This involved unprecedented exchange of biological resources too, that have even become associated with the local cuisine with ingredients like tomatoes and potatoes which are of course originally from south america. The civil war in the 1930s eradicated many rural villages and oppressed non Castilian cultures and resulted in a government structure that still only loosely holds together 17 autonomous communities. Modern industrial agriculture continues to shape the land like never before and it’s all just a superficial explanation of what adds up to the landscape and context that I now find myself building a life in.
So you can see why I’ve been on a mission since I arrived to find others to help me better understand the complexities and nuances of the never ending journey of finding my place in this place. This episode is my first attempt at bringing you along with me in this research effort and we have the pleasure to speak to a friend of mine who has built an incredible understanding of the Spanish context through the lens of biology and regenerative landscape design. 

Sara Garcia is the founder of Ecoloniza and lead designer at United Designers International. As a forest engineer and permaculture designer, she concentrates on creating ecological design solutions that integrate hydrological cycle management systems, techniques to enhance soil health, and the restoration of native plant communities and ecosystems. Through her experience, she’s learned that project success depends not only on a well-thought-out design but also on effective management, keen observation, and the ability to adapt. As a result, Sara emphasizes the importance of embracing a role as stewards of the land and actively monitoring the progress of the implemented design.

I reached out to Sara originally to help me map out and understand the geology and biome of the unique little pocket of the pre-littoral mountains of Catalunya where I live, but I quickly realized I had so much more to learn from her knowledge and experience.

In this episode Sara and I will talk in more detail about the history and influences that have shaped the land and life across the Iberian peninsula, both the good and the catastrophic,  as well as the trajectory we find it on in modern times. 

From there we talk about what is needed to set a new course for ecological prosperity for our region before going into the key awareness and understanding that is needed to act appropriately in any of the immensely diverse bioregions on the peninsula.

With that information as a base we also go into the actions and areas of focus that anyone can take to contribute to the regeneration of our incredibly special corner of the earth.

Now, some of you might be thinking, well where I live is nothing like Spain, maybe this won’t be interesting or useful to me. My reply to that would be that episodes like this where I take you along on my own journey of research and discovery in an attempt to become an integrated steward of my land and community is meant to act like a case study of the steps that anyone can take to learn more about their own place on this planet and how to actively participate in setting a new trajectory for abundant and resilient life for that space.
This is one of many episodes I have planned to give you all a window into what will be a lifelong pursuit of what could be described as my efforts to become a person of place, or re indigenize myself. There are endless ways to approach this vision and so many perspectives to explore, so I’m excited to get this series started with this first conversation with Sara Garcia.

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