Visit by members of the LIFE OREKA MENDIAN project to the local Fagus Alkiza initiative

On 20 March, staff from Neiker, Hazi Fundazioa and the Provincial Council of Álava travelled to the Guipuzcoan town of Alkiza to see first-hand the Fagus-Alkiza project promoted by the town’s council. The Fagus-Alkiza project consists of three areas: nature (conserve and increase biodiversity), humans (achieve sustainable development) and culture (promotion of culture in rural areas). These aspects are explained well in the Interpretation Centre of the same name which, besides being the showcase for the Special Conservation Area ZEC Hernio-Gazume, is also a meeting place for schoolchildren and others who are interested in developing these areas in the municipality of Alkiza.

In this framework, Fagus Alkiza has proposed the recovery of a significant part of its municipality’s natural heritage, such as the mountain pastures found in ZEC Hernio-Gazume. These pastures, located in small adjacent plots, most of which are private property (a small proportion of them have been acquired by the Council in recent years), were totally overrun with brambles and gorse. Thanks to grants from the Basque Government, they have been able to clear and recover up to 15 ha of pastures that, in addition, have been equipped with a water point. Acting as an intermediary between owners and potential users has meant that that, today, five farmers are taking their animals to that area, which helps to maintain and recover the pasture in the cleared areas.

In addition, the Fagus-Alkiza project goes further, since the objective is not only the recovery of pastoral habitats but also the increase of biodiversity in the areas involved. In this regard, the council has benefitted from the involvement of the Naturtzaindia association which, as an entity with custody of that area, promotes, for example, the creation and maintenance of hedges between plots in a way which not only facilitates the management of livestock (optimal load to control the gorse) but also effectively supports the biodiversity of the flora and fauna associated with the area. Another significant initiative is the construction of ponds from the surplus waters from the troughs, to facilitate the breeding of amphibians.

LIFE OREKA MENDIAN aims to identify and support this type of local initiative which is of great interest and shares the objectives of the project.

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