Demonstration and experimental soil conservation project for municipalities in the Madrid periurban area.

LIFE98 ENV/E/000347

Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version  

Contact details:

Project Manager: Eduardo DE MIGUEL BEASCOECHEA
Tel: +34915569390
Fax: +34915569895
Email: fondomadrid@quercus.es

Project description:


Soil erosion is one of the main objectives of the environmental policies of the European Union . Although it occurs throughout Mediterranean Europe, Spain is the country most affected by the process. The degradation of the ecosystems in the Madrid have helped to make it the 3rd worse-off region in terms of erosion in Spain, with 37.7% of the area counted as severe, 22.2% as moderate and only 2.2% as mild. This erosion is caused by a series of key factors: 1) an excessive livestock load in specific area, 2) the impact of expanding recreational activities – particularly from cars and people 3) acute vegetation loss from riverbanks and woods through new construction 4) the high rate of abandoned agricultural lands characterized by over-exploited soil, where the rate of re-colonization is slower than the rate of erosion, 5) the replacement of traditional cultivation systems like beds and terraces for intensive cultivation of olive groves and vineyards. Although local governments have already integrated concepts such as recycling, water and energy conservation into their environmental strategies, soil conservation has not been focused on in the same way. Urban planning regulations in the cities and towns around Madrid do not currently include soil conservation as a fundamental objective, nor do they treat it as an important resource to be taken into account when regulating activities. Action, therefore, should be taken to raise the municipalities awareness of the importance of the issue and to demonstrate practical means for solving the problem.


The overall aim of the project was to get local authorities to make soil conservation an integral part of municipal planning. This would be achieved by carrying out a pilot project to raise local authorities awareness of soil erosion and to demonstrate innovative soil conservation and rehabilitation techniques. The project would primarily have a training and information focus: carrying out practical experiments to demonstrate different prevention and correction measures followed by specific training and dissemination actions and research . The practical experiments were targeted on 3 key areas: Mechanical measures of erosion control, Crop and vegetation management and Re-vegetation. This would be accompanied by six-month course for municipal technicians, the publication of a manual, a traveling exhibition and a national congress at the conclusion of the project. The expected results were not only to carry out specific soil conservation and recuperation activities, but to help the concept of soil conservation become a permanent component of urban planning in the Madrid Region.


The project was developed in collaboration with the NGO Fundación 2001-Global Nature and set out to demonstrate different correction and prevention methods related to soil erosion, which would be simple, cost-effective and innovative in the national context. The actions primarily targeted muncipal technicians, although the project was also concerned to influence farmers and the general public. The first phase of the project focused on developing practical demonstrations of soil stabilization and recuperation techniques which were non-aggressive to the landscape, fauna and flora and made use of local materials where possible. The pilot project took place in 3 key areas: Mechanical methods of erosion control, crop and vegetation management and re-vegetation. In the first area, land stabilization structures were constructed to control watercourses consisting of small transversal bulwarks crossing watercourses to trap sediment, double and single palisade bulwarks on wide trenches and the installation of 1000m of barriers and other linear protection devices to stabilize slopes. Other actions focused on channeling run-off water through ditches at non-erosive speeds and planting trees and shrubs. Stabilization and maintenance was tested through different methods on 5000 m of paths, dirt roads and local highways particularly in recreational areas and on slopes from March 1999 to October 1999. The second area: Crop and vegetation management focused on demonstrating to local farmers techniques involving no, low, minimal and strip cultivation and cultivation without land clearance in areas with low erosion potential. The crops grown benefited the rabbit and partridge communities thereby helping to maintain at-risk species. An area of abandoned farmland (25 ha) was restored by restoring native pasturelands and revegetation practices and a controlled-grazing program carried out in the whole municipality. In the third area of revegetation a comparison was made between 2 techniques for holm-oak reforestation. Firstly with planting 1 year old saplings using different types of protection (tubex and netting) to compare effectiveness against browsing by livestock and rabbits, and secondly through a traditional method of planting acorns with cereal crops. Strip vegetation was also carried out by planning seeds and 1 and 2 year old shrubs from local species. Finally, a pruning program was developed for the whole forestry area to demonstrate the relationship between pruning and soil protection on 400 hectares. Based on these experiments, 2 courses were carried out on Techniques for Soil Conservation and preventing Erosion. One involving 95 farmers and students and the second involving 50 municipal technicians. This consisted of a six month theoretical and practical course including on-site practical sessions ( 1-2 days per week for a total of 35 days) . Wider dissemination was evoked by holding a well-attended 'National Congress for the Prevention of Soil Erosion in Periurban Areas'. An accompanying exhibition was shown in municipalities throughout the Community of Madrid and a manual published containing a project description and guidelines for local authorities. The creation of a laboratory and center for Studies of the Dehesa dedicated to the study of soil erosion and degradation of forested rangeland (dehesa) systems, provided an on-going research base for continuing studies. Although the project achieved its short term objectives, it highlighted the need for a longer-term approach backed by political and financial commitment of the local authorities themselves. As a result the beneficiaries have presented a project together with Fundación 2001-Global Nature to develop more coordinated actions as a nework in the whole Madrid region. “Creación de una Red de Control de la Erosión.


Environmental issues addressed:


Land-use & Planning - Soil and landscape protection
Information - Governance - Awareness raising - Information


environmental awareness‚  periurban space‚  policy integration‚  urban planning‚  local authority‚  soil erosion‚  land restoration

Target EU Legislation

  • Urban Environment
  • Decision 1411/2001/EC - "Community Framework for co-operation to promote sustainable urban develo ...
  • Land & Soil
  • Regulation 2078/92 - Agricultural production methods compatible with the requirements of the prot ...
  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ayuntamiento de Sevilla la Nueva
Type of organisation Local authority
Description The beneficiary is the town of Sevilla la Nueva, a community of 3000 inhabitants covering an area of 25 sq km, in the southeast corner of the Madrid Region. The town has a small but expanding population and is expected to increase to grow. Although it has a well-preserved natural environment, with groves of holm oak providing a home to a large population of prey and endangered species, its major environmental problem is soil erosion due to its sandy, poorly cohesive soil covering.
Partners Department of Geography of the University of Cáceres was in charge of the setting up a laboratory in the Center for Studies of the Dehesa. Fundación 2001-Global Nature helped coordinate and focus the project Consejería de Medio Ambiente de la Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid.


Project reference LIFE98 ENV/E/000347
Duration 01-AUG-1998 to 01-AUG -2000
Total budget 400,445.84 €
EU contribution 179,066.61 €
Project location Madrid(España)


Read more:

Publication: Book Title: Documentación del Curso de Técnicas Agrícolas de Conservación de Suelos. Author: Ayuntmiento de Sevilla la Nueva Year: 2000
Publication: Book Title: Documentación del Curso de Técnicas contra la Erosión. Author: Ayuntmiento de Sevilla la Nueva Year: 2000
Publication: Guidelines-Manual Title: Manual de Lucha contra la Erosión: Técnicas de Control y Prevención. Author: Ayuntamiento de Sevilla la Nueva Year: 2000


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version