Celebrating the third anniversary

6 July 2013

Three years ago Fragas do Mandeo was founded with the aim to preserve the biodiversity and landscape of the As Mariñas area by means of land stewardship.

Since then, with the support of donors and sympathizers, our volunteers have worked tirelessly to achieve the organisation’s goals. Although we are mostly known because of our charity markets, conferences and occasional media appearances, the truth is that most of our work does not have public visibility: locating land plots of ecologic and scenic interest, identifying and negotiating with owners, recruiting donors, maintenance of the ornithological observatory, promoting land stewardship, the unavoidable internal administration… Step by step we have become one of the reference entities for land stewardship in Galicia, and we have been invited to share our experiences in different forums.

Although the balance is really positive, it is not all success. Several initiatives submitted to the Administration have not yielded results yet, due to their usual slow pace, but there will be no lack of perseverance to push them all we can. Nor did we manage to gain any business sponsorship, hard hit by the economic crisis, but there is still time ahead to achieve this.

Dona’s third birthday

Our mascot Dona turned three also, since she was born the day before the constitution of our organization. We can see through her how the Fragas do Mandeo project grows day by day.

When she arrived she was a two-month old puppy, playful and naughty. Today she is an affectionate, somewhat shy bitch, well-trained and full of energy, who accompanies us on our visits to the woodland plots, scents and follows the paths of wildlife.

But this year she also graduated as an environmental educator. She was the presenter of this area’s habitats on the album that Fragas do Mandeo made for the Sada y sus Contornos Elementary School, she opened a blog on our website to give explanations to the students, answered their e-mails, and guided some outings. Thus she was our ambassador to the schoolchildren. We hope she continues to introduce local children to the nature that surrounds them and helps to engender in them a life-long commitment to nature conservation.

Advancing in land stewardship in the River Mandeo native forest

The most rewarding way of celebrating the anniversary with our donors and volunteers is expanding the area in which we practice land stewardship. In fact, last Thursday we exceeded the important figure of 50,000m 2 in land stewardship. To be precise, we reached the figure of 64,535 m2, from which 59,142 m 2

Most of the protected wood plots are in an acceptable state of preservation. But we will have to start a process of elimination of eucalyptus and substitution by native trees. We have already identified various techniques to prevent the eucalyptus stumps from producing new shoots: we will put them into practice as soon as it is feasible and so that we can check what is the most effective and eco-friendly method. The process will be slow, the usual pace for nature, but a positive impact on the landscape and biodiversity is guaranteed.

The first land plot for which we signed a stewardship agreement is already free of eucalyptus. From there we can now enjoy the view over the River Mandeo flowing along its course, bordered by riparian forest. Small oak and chestnut trees that have spontaneously sprouted are now growing on the plot, guaranteeing that there will be native forest in the future and showing us that nature immediately recovers if we give it an opportunity.

The key: donors and volunteers

The enlargement of the protected area depends entirely on the economic capacity provided by our donors. Our challenge is expanding their number in the coming years, if we want to enhance the pace of plot acquisition. Be sure to spread the word about our work to attract new donors from amongst your friends and work colleagues. And don´t forget to encourage cultural and sports associations you belong to ―or any other type― to join those that are currently supporting us.

As the protected area is extended, the volunteering needs increase. There are various activities in which you can participate, in line with your personal skills and free time available. Be sure to get in touch with us so that we can contact you when we organize volunteering activities.

For us, things are quite clear. Citizens can effectively act for nature conservation in our locality. You just need to dedicate a bit of your time or donate an amount no matter how small it is. If we want, we can. No doubt.

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