Round table at Terractiva

7 December 2011

On December 17 and 18 the 8th edition of the Terractiva Organic Fair is going to take place in Arzúa.

On the Sunday afternoon, a round table on land custody in Galicia is scheduled; Fragas do Mandeo will take part together with four other groups (Ridimoas, AGCT, Adega and Ulla-Deza).

Photograph of the previous edition of the Terractiva Organic FairTerractiva is the largest Galician fair for organic products and produce of the land, crafts, alternative therapies, traditional instruments and environmental organizations. In addition to the exhibitors, the event will feature activities for people of all ages. Children will have a play area, together with puppetry performances and children’s theatre. Adults may participate in different workshops, or attend music, theatre, storytelling, magic and circus shows.

Location: Arzúa’s fair exhibition site.
Date: December 18, 17.00 h.

More information in the website of the organization or by downloading the program.

New visitors in the estuary: avocets

14 November 2011

Fragas do Mandeo was quite busy this fall participating in several forums that promote land stewardship. We also spent a lot of time negotiating custody agreements. The groundwork has been done and we hope that results will soon follow. Nevertheless, we still find time to visit the Betanzos estuary to watch birds on migration, which stop in our region to rest and feed.

On Sunday we saw a species never before seen in the estuary: the avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta). This beautiful bird is easily identifiable since, apart from its vivid black and white colours, has an upcurved beak, which makes it unmistakable.

Photograph of the avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)The Southeast gale promised some surprises, since strong winds always bring with them some unusual species. This is what happened with the flock of avocets that were on Fiobre’s Beach (Bergondo). There were three adults and two juveniles. Standing on the shore and facing the wind to keep the air from ruffling their feathers. From time to time they were disturbed by a Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis). Some grey plovers (Pluvialis squatarola), were also nearby, a couple of great black-backed gulls (Larus marinus), a flock of twelve turnstones (Arenaria interpres) and another of twenty eight pintails (Anas acuta), an unusually large number for the estuary.

The avocets will soon continue their journey towards the South of the peninsula, or they may even cross to Africa. They breed in wetland areas elsewhere in Spain, but not in Galicia. This small flock probably comes from one of their breeding sites in the South of England, from the French coast, the Netherlands or even from Southern Sweden. The form of its characteristic beak helps them catch their prey, because they feed on aquatic invertebrates, sweeping the bottom in shallow water with their beak.

The more we know our estuary the more we realize its importance for migratory birds. It is just one of the many wetland areas of the Galician coast, a place to feed and temporarily find shelter on their way to Southern lands. We have to work for the preservation of this chain of spaces vital for so many migratory aquatic species.

Represented at the National Stewardship Forum

6 November 2011

The setting-up of the National Land Stewardship Forum took place in Madrid on November 3rd. This new body has the objective of promoting, coordinating and representing land stewardship initiatives all over the country. Its establishment involves 13 organisations: the seven territorial networks for stewardship, three stewardship entities and three organizations that support their creation, so gathering most of the stewardship movement.

Photograph of the participants in the incorporation of the National Land Stewardship ForumThe National Forum was originated in 2006, when the first meeting on land stewardship took place, called by the Environment, Rural and Marine Ministry. At that moment the participating organizations decided to work together informally, in order to maintain communication between entities and regional networks, as well as acting as interlocutors between the stewardship movement and the different administrations and social areas interested in it. One of its most remarkable achievements was the inclusion of stewardship in the Strategic Plan of the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity 2011-2017.

The incorporation ceremony had the participation of the Director General of Natural Environment and Forestry Policy, José Jiménez, and Director General of Sustainable Development of the Rural Environment, Jesús Casas, who affirmed that the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs will support forms of land management that ensure the involvement of citizens, as is the case with stewardship.

Fragas do Mandeo took part in the incorporation through the Galician Group of Stewardship Entities, and will be represented at the National Forum by Óscar Rivas, who belongs to the Galician Association for Land Stewardship.

Get more information by downloading the incorporation minutes and the articles of association.

Success of the First Conference on Land Stewardship

1 November 2011

As announced some days ago, we took part in the First Galician Conference on Land Stewardship that took place on October 29 in Santiago de Compostela, including a visit to the Marine Reserve Mar de Lira and to the Raíña Lupa Cooperative the following day.
Photograph of the First Galician Conference on Land StewardshipIt was held in the excellent setting of the Novacaixagalicia Community Centre, where information about ten different stewardship initiatives in Galicia was available. Most remarkable was their diversity, both in the type of organizations and in their approaches to dealing with this issue. As for the sphere of action, we could saw examples of fluvial stewardship, marine stewardship, stewardship of private plots or in the public domain, and of protected areas or those lacking protection.

Photograph of the First Galician Conference on Land StewardshipThe talk by Amaya Sánchez, from Fundación Biodiversidad (an organisation under the authority of the Ministry of Environment), was very instructive. She reviewed the situation of stewardship in our country and the performance of the Plataforma de Custodia (Stewardship Committee) in monitoring its development. Núria Llabrés’ talk, from the GOB Menorca, turned out to be very interesting as well. She focused on land stewardship aimed at keeping sustainable agricultural and livestock practice, so that the traditional environmental and landscape benefits of these activities are preserved. We presented the process of incorporation of our organisation, the environmental characteristics of our area of activity, the obstacles we are encountering, and the need to promote green philanthropy in order to guarantee stability and resources for stewardship organisations.

The participants concluded the meeting stressing the importance of continuing independent stewardship, but without failing to request support from government bodies through regulatory measures and financing. We agreed to meet again in a year’s time, hoping that by then we can speak of the progress we have made.

Photograph of the First Galician Conference on Land Stewardship.

We participate in First Galician Conference for Stewardship

26 October 2011

Next weekend, in Santiago de Compostela, we are going to hold the First Galician Conference for Land Stewardship, in which Fragas do Mandeo will participate presenting the fund for the conservation of nature in the As Mariñas area.

Image of the poster announcing the I Galician Conference for Land StewardshipWith the slogan “situation and perspectives”, its aim is to share experiences and review the current situation of stewardship in Galicia, to make known the initiatives underway, their goals and obstacles to progress.

It will also be attended by several guests, representatives of the Fundación Biodiversidad, the Grup Balear d’ Ornithologia (GOB) and the Portuguese association Quercus.

After the conference and round tables on Saturday, we will complete the gathering with a visit to the Sea Marine Reserve Mar de Lira and the cooperative Raíña Lupa on Sunday.

The event is organized by Adega (Association for the Environmental Defence of Galicia), with the collaboration of the Galician Association of Land Stewardship and the financial support of the Provincial Council of A Coruña.

Location: Centro Social Novacaixagalicia, Cervantes Square, Santiago de Compostela
Dates: 29 – 30 October 2011

More information on the website of the organization or by downloading the program.

Work sessions on stewardship

15 October 2011

Promoted by Fragas do Mandeo, the first work session on land stewardship in Galicia was held today. The meeting was held by the groups most involved with stewardship for the preservation of biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems, with the objective of sharing our knowledge on its implementation in Galicia, outline a roadmap and reach a consensus with regard to requests of regulatory and financial support from the administration.

Photograph of the Workshop on Land Stewardship in GaliciaDuring the long morning session we reviewed the legislation for stewardship promotion. We also analyzed the regulations that affect it directly or indirectly, such as the Bantegal regulation, the Woods Act, the volunteering regulation or that of environmental compensation. We also devoted some time to discuss the casuistry of land stewardship in publicly-owned water systems, coastal areas, military property and communal woods. The problems of identification and location of owners, and the whole land acquisition process, took quite some time. Finally, we also dealt with topics like citizens’ involvement, environmental recovery techniques and declarations of wildlife reserves.

Photograph of Pablo RodríguezIn the afternoon we visited some areas safeguarded by the Ridimoas Cultural-Environmental Association. Guided by Pablo Rodríguez, we got to know in more detail what is the pioneering and biggest initiative in Galicia. Its history and everyday existence serve us as an inspiration to us, with its more than two decades of experience being a priceless source of information.

We agreed on meeting again in the I Galician Land Stewardship Conference, scheduled for 29 and 30 October, which will gather virtually all stewardship initiatives which are under way in Galicia.

Third charity market

11 September 2011

On this day we set up our third charity market at the Do Campo Square in Betanzos, once again offering for sale the many items donated by our supporters.

As forecast, we didn’t have very good weather: the drizzle arrived early in the morning. The worsening of the weather and the end of the summer season meant fewer shoppers came to the stall, affecting sales.

The third market was the last for this season. Once again, we are grateful to Betanzos Council for their permission to hold a market and the lending of the stall tables, as well as to the volunteers who weren’t intimidated by the bad weather.

Second charity market

7 August 2011

Today, for the second time, we organized the charity market at Do Campo Square in Betanzos. The numerous donations received allowed us to offer the public all kinds of items, mainly books, glassware, gift stuffs and accessories.

Apart from the ever-welcome income, being at the market gave us an opportunity to spread the word about Fragas do Mandeo. We thank Betanzos Council for permission to run the market stall and for lending us tables, as well as the volunteers who gave up their Sunday morning to man the stall.

Happy birthday Dona, happy birthday Fragas do Mandeo

6 July 2011

Yesterday marked the first year of life of our mascot Dona. She received a dog sweet as a present, which she chewed slowly, with pleasure. Fragas do Mandeo, the nature conservation fund of As Mariñas, also celebrated its first anniversary, since it was this very day in 2010 that the deed of incorporation was signed.

Photograph of ice plant removal (Carpobrotus edulis) from Alameda beach (Miño, A Coruña)To celebrate, last Friday we held a public presentation of the performance assessment and statutory balance sheet of this first year of operation. The blue room of the Lyceum of Betanzos was full to capacity with an audience that enjoyed the slide shows and listened attentively to explanations about the work of Fragas do Mandeo.

It was not all talk. Following as scheduled, on Sunday volunteers and supporters participated in the removal of invasive alien species present in Alameda beach in Ponte do Porco (Miño), which threatened uncontrolled expansion on the dune ecosystem.

Photograph of the removal of Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) from Alameda beach (Miño, A Coruña)The ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis), which covered an area of 30 square meters, was completely uprooted and 61 plants of Pampas grass as well (Cortaderia selloana), but in this case it was not so easy. They were still small and the sandy soil should facilitate uprooting. But the truth was that the extensive and deep roots forced us to work hard, and even the handle of a shovel was broken. The day’s heat did not help, and working with short sleeves meant that some people ended up with scratched arms (the leaves are serrated and sharp).

While some pulled up the invasive plants, others picked up garbage. An endangered beetle is found on Alameda beach, the Eurynebria complanata. The world population of this coleopteran is in sharp decline, so precautionary measures have to be taken. The manual collection of garbage avoids using heavy machinery that can seriously damage the existing population.

Photograph of the first charity market of Fragas do MandeoAt the same time, at the Do Campo Square of Betanzos, other volunteers were helping at a charity market. The stall was more than 20 metres long, where all kind of products were on sale: books, glassware, china, gifts, compact discs, accessories, etc. The bargains stimulated sales and many items found a new home, in accordance with the three “r’s”: «reduce, reuse, recycle. The funds raised will be used to acquire environmentally interesting plots in the area.

We want to thank Miño Council and the members of Civil Defence for their help in the transport and disposal of garbage and invasive plants; to Betanzos Council for lending us the Blue Room and the tables for the market stall; to the people and groups that helped us in various ways and who donated the articles sold there, among them the Rialeda Central Library, associations Eira Vella, Lar de Unta and Rabo do Galo, Grupo Naturalista Hábitat, Sociedade Galega de Historia Natural, Grupo Ornitolóxico Calidris and the photographer Manuel Cañás.

But above all, we thank the 23 volunteers who directly helped in the two-day event and in the preparations for it.

Presentation to the local press

6 July 2011

Logo of the newspaper “Betanzos e a súa comarca”The newspaper Betanzos e a súa comarca (Betanzos and surrounding area) shows in its July number some news about the public presentation of Fragas do Mandeo in the article entitled Conservation of nature, the objective of Fragas do Mandeo. A whole-page article deals with the entity’s objectives, most immediate projects and activities carried out last weekend.

Published by ACEBE, this newspaper has a circulation of 15,000 copies distributed for free throughout Betanzos and the whole area of As Mariñas, so we hope this has a positive impact on the spread of information about Fragas do Mandeo.

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