Introduction to Semi-Arid Dryland
Would you like to learn how to restore our natural environment? How to preserve soil, reduce erosion and use native plants in the process? Here at Sunseed we aim to reduce our footprint on the planet and learn how to live sustainably. Our ecosystem restoration department works on improving the state of our natural environment in Almería and reversing some of the harm that has been caused by humans.
With this experience we want to introduce you to theory and techniques of dryland restoration. You will get an introduction to the theory of restoration ecology, the physical environment of drylands and its associated processes. In addition, we will introduce you to low-tech solutions involving planning for restoration plantings, plant propagation and many more (see timetable for more details).
Sunseed is a non-formal educational project seeking for a more sustainable way of living over the past 35 years. Over time, it has become an experiential learning centre with people interested in sustainability coming together to learn and teach topics related to a low impact and regenerative lifestyle. Coming here, you will also learn about this alternative lifestyle and become part of our community. Important to remember is that Sunseed is an off-grid project, meaning our electricity and hot water depend on the sun. We also use compost toilets to save water and reduce our waste.
Lessons will be held from the 28th of April - 2nd of May 2022. Note that the nights of the 27th and 2nd are included in the course price to allow for arrivals and departures.
Sunseed Desert Technology – Los Molinos del Río Aguas, Sorbas, Almería, Spain.
We are located in the Natural Park “Karst en Yesos de Sorbas”, with some of the biggest caves in Europe and unique geology. This has given rise to a unique plant community that grows within the gypsum - home to over 1000 different plant species! Our community is based in the valley of the Río Aguas which creates an oasis in the desert and a stunning landscape in one of the driest parts of Europe.
In this course you will:
- Gain an overview of the current state of local restoration efforts.
- Have insight into the low-impact management techniques used at Sunseed.
- Learn how to correctly use tools and equipment relevant to our work.
- Feel encouraged to become involved in local restoration projects.
- Understand threats to the area and discuss strategies to help mitigate these.
- Learn about the importance of soil conservation, vegetative regeneration and restoration design, and how they are used.
- Be immersed in a stimulating learning environment with like-minded individuals.
- Experience community living and better understand community dynamics.
- Understand relevant ecological concepts such as succession, competition, nutrient cycling and ecosystem services, and how they apply
This course is self-designed, drawing on our own experience and knowledge from the area. We offer a non-formal educational experience and aim to lay the foundation with which the participant, with a degree of self-directed learning, will continue to build on.
- Restoration trends / principles / examples
- Local environment: geography / climate / threats,
- Socioeconomic and environmental context
- Plant biology and ecology
- Agroforestry principles and design
- Soil health and mycorrhizae
- Land Assessment / restorative design
- Erosion control / water retention
- Tool use
- Seed collection / preparation / propagation
- Planting methods / growing / foraging
- Irrigation and watering
Itinerary and course infopack
Full course outline can be found here.
Infopack can be downloaded here.
Who should apply
We welcome anyone with a keen interest in conserving the environment and gaining a basic understanding of ecological restoration in degraded ecosystems. Some experience is always appreciated, but not necessary as the course content is entry-level and aims to give an overview of typical activities carried out by volunteers at Sunseed. It will be diverse and will have something for everyone, covering both theoretical and practical aspects of our work. People with a strong motivation to work with us in restoring natural habitat, conserving nature and sharing their appreciation of this unique environment are strongly encouraged to apply.
The price of the course is 300€. This includes:
- 5 days of lessons
- Equipment, tools and resources
- 6 nights accommodation in a shared dorm
- Transport to and from the local bus station (Sorbas)
- 3 vegetarian meals per day + snacks
*We offer a 50€ discount for travel by train, bus or rideshare/carpool to help us reduce our carbon footprint for the course.
**An additional night before the arrival day (Tuesday 26th) is 20€.
How to apply
Participants can use the google form to sign up. Please note we will accept participants on a first come, first served basis.
How to pay
We accept payment by bank transfer, PayPal or cash.
We live in a small village amongst neighbours, many of whom are elderly. To protect them and fulfill our responsibility as part of the local community, we ask that all participants take a PCR or rapid antigen test in the 48hrs before arriving, regardless of their vaccination status. Any restrictions relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic are followed at Sunseed, in accordance with current Spanish law.
Harry Stephens - Drylands Management Coordinator
Phone: +34 655 737 198
About the Facilitators
Harry Stephens – Harry is currently Dryland Coordinator at Sunseed and has special interests in terrestrial ecology, ecosystem design and global conservation perspectives. After working and living in different parts of the world, he came to Sunseed to learn and apply his skills to Dryland restoration. In the last year he has gained considerable knowledge about this environment, its species and processes. He brings his experiences into practice at Sunseed to continue sharing and learning from others.
Matthias Sudau – Matthias is a Geographer & Master student in Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation. He is specializing in Restoration Ecology with experience in different ecosystems “all around the globe”. After working in Floodplain Restoration and Mountain Forest Restoration, he is currently focusing on a Land Assessment project for Sunseed to give the organisation a long-term strategy on how to manage its land and how to stop degrading processes in this desert surrounding.