Extremadura

Landscape and bird paradise in the South-West of Spain

© Gunther Willlinger
The extensive steppes are home to many endangered plant and animal species. © Gunther Willlinger

Eurasian Black Vultures circle above the mountains of Sierra de Gredos the highest of which rise to an altitude of 2 600 metres (or 8 500 feet). A multitude of small rivers and streams wind unhampered through chains of hills. Wood pastures of Holm Oak and Cork Oak grow on their slopes. Arching over the extensive steppes of the plain is a sky of brilliant, deep blue. The fascination of Extramadura lies in its variety and sheer beauty.

Multifaceted habitat
One typical feature of Extramadura are the so called dehesas – parklike groves of oak which are reminiscent of the spreading savannas of Africa. The dehesas provide an irreplaceable habitat to  many rare plant and animal species. The Crane, the Imperial Eagle and the Black Stork are among them and the last remaining Iberian Lynxes hunt rabbits here.


From variety to monotony
Over centuries extensive cattle grazing and transhumance created a balance between the needs of people and those of nature. With the emergence of intensive animal breeding more and more farmers are giving up the old sustainable way of working. In the course of years many oak groves have been cut down and monoculture plantations of olive-trees, for example, have taken their place. In this process important habitats for tens of thousands of cranes have been annihilated. Cranes spend the winters in the Extramadura and the Holm Oak acorns were important forage for them.

A variety of approaches to conservation
Ever since the beginning of the 1990s EuroNatur has been campaigning with its local partners for the protection of Cranes and their endangered habitat. Model projects show how the dehesas can be preserved and transhumance revived. These projects are accompanied by political lobbying on national and European levels.


>> Read more about the EuroNatur projects for the  protection of the Extremadura



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