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Drylands Management

Tale of the Mediterranean Drylands in Sunseed

by Drylands Coordinator Agata

A tiny gypsum crystal is carried by the cool water of the river among the roots of the brambles, and among the canes.

Once, a long time ago, he was set at the top of the bushy hill where he enjoyed the best view in the whole valley of the river, like a free swallow in endless skies of light, above endless arid lands.

He found himself surrounded by so many other similar yet different crystals.

The crystal waited patiently for years for the blanket of the small orange lichen spreading nearby to cover it.

A thyme, however, was quicker and wrapped it in its roots. One day, a herd of wild goats swept over the thyme with their fast, hard hooves. So the little crystal also tumbled down, down, down, until it got stuck in a crack of the rock on the ravine.

There a carob tree was already growing, it was thirsty but tough and resilient. The crystal was amazed by the strength and courage of this creature.

The carob tree had put down its strong and deep roots in the crack of the rock, he thought it would be a good place to grow. However, it had not taken into account the burning sun out there. 

That sun was his heart, a heart in tachycardia in the apparent calm of the day, and this sun was pumping water into the wood of the small carob tree at great speed, sucking it out of the leaves. The carob tree arrived exhausted at sunset, but every night it recovered and breathed deeply, so strongly that the crystal was always afraid to fly away. 

The carob tree loved life, it knew that its life gave birth to so many others: to the birds that built their nests on its branches, to the animals, small insects and microscopic organisms that lived in the soil feeding on its dried leaves, its old roots, and the food that the carob tree deliberately released into the soil to attract friendly fungi and bacteria. These friends gave him a big hand by bringing water and nutrients and he could count on them especially in times of trouble, because if he lived they would continue to live.

The gypsum crystal was immensely grateful to inhabit the roots of the brave carob tree and decided to support him in every way he could, clinging to all the soil he could and retaining all the organic matter that happened to be around him: the leaves, the waste from birds, rabbits, goats, earthworms and insects.

The carob tree grew bigger and bigger and after dozens and dozens of years he began to lose his leaves. 

The crystal was extremely worried, but the carob tree reassured him: “Life is beautiful because, although it has an end, it produces more life ad infinitum”. The carob tree had given his all, for all those years, and now it was the turn of others to take his place. The next trees would be lucky because they would have the huge network of friends that the carob tree had built and also a nice, soft, moist cushion on which to lean and put down their roots. 

One spring night, the now old and tired but serene carob tree was uprooted by a great storm. The crystal decided to go with him and soon found himself in the water. When the sun rose, the carob tree was no longer there, and the crystal discovered that he had arrived in the water of the river. It was an incredible feeling! A new adventure had just begun and he was full of faith and ready to live it fully.


Are you interested in joining our Drylands team? We are currently looking for a Coordinator and an Assistant to join our community in the coming months. Contact Agata at