Adaptation measures: Scrubland clearing in La Rioja

One of the main objectives of the LIFE MIDMACC project is the implementation and testing of different landscape management measures to meet climate change related challenges and to improve socioeconomic development in mid-mountain areas of Spain. One of these adaptation measures is the application of scrubland clearing to promote extensive livestock, for fire risk prevention and other environmental issues (soil quality, landscape structure, water resources). In La Rioja, this pilot experience is carried out in two locations: San Román de Cameros (calcareous soils) and Ajamil (siliceous soils); both sites are located in the Leza Valley (La Rioja, Spain). Both areas are private plots and the cattle used for the experiments are privately owned by two young shepherds: Javier Lasanta and Cristina Galilea.

The pilot experience is carried out in two abandoned fields covered with natural vegetation. In the plots, 3 sub-plots are fenced and four livestock load (no load, low, medium and high) will be applied (first season summer 2020). A total of 24 sub-plot will be studied and monitored. In addition, one plot with no intervention to monitor the site evolution with no actuation has been selected close to the managed area in the different sites.

The following images have been taken in February and March 2020 after scrubland clearing. Once the shrub has been removed, subplots are almost prepared (10 x 10 m). In these plots, different assays will be carried out over 4 years: (i) different sheep number will be introduced in the different plots; (ii) soil measurements will be taken before and after extensive livestock activity; (iii) vegetation samplings will be carried out also before and after extensive livestock activity; (iv) seasonal rainfall simulations; and (v) temperature and humidity, as well as soil moisture, will be continuously measured in the different plots. This monitoring will allow us to know the effects of scrubland clearing and livestock activity in water resources, pasture and soil quality.

Plot preparation in scrubland clearing management in San Román (calcareous substrate)
Plot preparation in scrubland clearing management in Ajamil (siliceous substrate)
Livestock that will be use in the pilot experiences in La Rioja
Control plot in San Román (land abandoned with natural revegetation processes)