Department Summary: We aim to develop and demonstrate a long-term land use approach considering drylands techniques traditional both to this area of Spain and to other semi-arid regions. Read more… Latest News: Click here for the latest news of the Drylands department. Project Packs: Click here to read possible projects for a placement in the Drylands department. Drylands Co-ordinator: Find our more information about the DM co-ordinator.
Through observations of natural ecosystems, the Drylands Management (DM) department aims to understand the process of succession, degradation and development of soil, flora and fauna and attempts to formulate land-management policies from these. We aim to develop and demonstrate a long-term land use approach considering drylands techniques traditional both to this area of Spain and to other semi-arid regions; we attempt to incorporate academic research with a practical and realistic land-management strategy.
Projects are carried out in a low-tech setting. This means that adaptability and originality are needed when designing experiments. At Sunseed we have some basic laboratory facilities, a library, a reasonable (usually!) internet connection for research, and seedbanks as well as temperature and rainfall data collection units. Work is carried out on our tree nursery, dryland terraces and arboretums. Some of our “dry” lands have small amounts of irrigation water available and are used productively, producing olives and almonds among other crops. The department is also responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the waste water system on the project and is responsible for the care of all fruit and olive trees owned by the project, most of which are on irrigated land. We are currently researching rainwater-harvesting schemes to increase the amount of land that can bear crops. The work done here is very varied and challenging. Historically, the project originally focussed on tree-planting and “reforestation”. However, more recent research has cast doubt on whether the immediate area was ever fully forested and we are now looking at projects which will help us understand better the scrubby “matoral” vegetation that now dominates the landscape and how we can encourage the development of long-term increases in local biodiversity and stability.