On Saturday the 25th of March a group of 55 students from the University of Almeria came to visit Sunseed in order to learn about our project and the environment that surrounds us. This was possible thanks to the “Arbol de las Piruletas” which is a non-profit association that develops activities aimed at promoting awareness for the conservation of the Environment and that can luckily participate this year in the Project Ecocampus Almeria as Technical Secretary. This is an initiative of the Consejeria de Medio Ambiente y Ordenaciòn del Territorio and the University of Almeria, founded by the European Union (80%). The students were from two different university courses: Environmental Science and Education.
After their arrival they had a Sunseed general tour in order to have a deeper understanding of this reality and our structures and goals. In each departments the respective coordinators gave a general explanation about their work and about the activities they can offer to volunteers. After a delicious Sunseed lunch prepared with local products, the Drylands coordinator guided the walk to the Nacimiento, the spring of Rio Aguas, the important river that many villages (including ours) rely on for the supply of water which is in serious danger.
The walk was an opportunity to speak about the Ecocide (the death of an eco-system) going on in this area and that this is the exact cause of why the river and all the villages that rely on this flow to survive are in so much danger. Because of an intensive agricultural activity due to olive plantations between Tabernas and Sorbas, the river is being overexploited by over 300% and the water flow is reducing quickly. It was measured by Professor Maria Calaforra of Almeria University and the reduction has gone down from 17 litres per second (in April 2015) to 10,4 litres per second (in july 2015). This will cause, firstly, a lack of water in some tracts of the bed of the river and so many species are now risking extinction because of the entrapment, as they won’t have vital space to move.
On the human side of the issue, many people have the opportunity to live in this area thanks to the water they can take from the river. The human consumption has always been respectful and sustainable so that, even in the driest periods, the water is still flowing. Due to this overexploitation, caused by the intensive olive plantations, the future of many people and the rare species in this area are at risk. The water here is fossil, which means that it has been locked underground for thousands of years and is not easily renewable, instead has a very small recharge from the rainy water, which in the area is very limited.
We were all very happy we could share this information with the students of the University of Almeria as they shared much interest about this issue and also about the whole Sunseed project. We hope more and more people will be aware of this situation and will come together to stop this abuse.