Land restoration project to increase food production in southern Spain

Land restoration project to increase food production in southern Spain

Climate change and poor farming practices have caused land degradation in Andalusia, for decades Spain's most popular holiday destination, being home to Malaga and the Costa del Sol. The TUI Care Foundation wants tourists to keep coming so has teamed up with a local partner to start to restore the landscape and regenerate food production

High plateaus of Andalusia

Record temperatures in Andalusia are starting to impact on tourist numbers, which in turn affects the livelihoods of those who work the land to provide food for the local population. Hotter summers and poor farming practices have resulted in severe land degradation in the high plateaus of Andalusia, which has led the TUI Care Foundation to start work on a project to restore biodiversity, conserve water supplies and halt soil erosion. 

Tourism is a blessing and a curse for many parts of the world, but there is no doubt that when it starts to decline it makes local populations poorer. Spain has largely recovered from the financial crash in 2008 but climate change is making life in the hot south increasingly difficult. Negligible rainfall makes makes farmland dry out and soil erosion kicks in. When it's hard to grow food, farming families move away and when local produce isn't readily available, restaurants and hotels can't cater for tourists, who decide not to come back next year. It's a vicious circle.

Not surprisingly, TUI Care Foundation - the charitable arm of the holiday giant TUI - wants to keep Andalusia as a thriving tourist destination and it says it's to work in partnership with local groups to mitigate the effects of rising summer temperations on farming and food production. 

Almonds grow in Andalusia
TUI Care Foundation is working with local partner AlVelAl to restore the landscape in Andalusia's high plateau and regenerate food production. The project will also provide opportunities for local producers of food stuffs such as almonds, olive oil, honey and wine to access the supply chain for popular holiday destinations.
 
After decades of unsustainable land use practices, farmers in the plateau regions are struggling against the accelerating effects of climate change - severe soil erosion, a scarcity of ground water and an ongoing loss of biodiversity - which are threatening the environment and its people. The productivity and profitability of small-scale farmers has been declining, with unemployment figures spiking up to 60 per cent in recent years. Rural populations need sustainable businesses and access to markets. By combining land restoration and food production, TUI Care Foundation and partners will be facilitating sustainable development for rural areas.
 
The project also aims to get younger generations of farmers to embrace regenerative practices, boost sustainable production, and build strong local markets for their products -  Andalusian almonds, honey, olives, wine and lamb are, after all, of the highest quality.
 
Between 2018 and 2021, an estimated 2,150 people will be reached by an in-depth awareness campaign about regenerative agriculture, with an expected minimum of 130 farmers turning to regenerative farming by the end of 2019. On top of that, local restaurants will be encouraged to use local organic products and advice will be given on how to innovate and market this new gastronomy.
 
Rodrigo Sanchez Haro, Andalusia's Minister of Agriculture, Fishery and Rural Development, welcomes the TUI initiative because it's vital to keep the region's rural businesses alive.
 
Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of TUI Care Foundation, is likewise excited by the venture: 'The vision and estimated impact of this project is nothing but a role model for a sustainable and local value chain, which enhances biodiversity, contributes to the rural standard of living, and is not based on charity but on sustainable businesses.'
 
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