The measures will benefit 14,000 farms of a single system of sustainable exploitation, which in the autonomous community occupies 1.2 million hectares.
The Governing Council has approved the Master Plan for the Dehesas de Andalucía, which until 2021 provides for an initial investment of more than 86 million euros from the Rural Development Program (PDR), its main source of funding. Its objective is to ensure the economic and environmental viability of this unique system in Europe for sustainable management of agricultural and livestock resources and forestry, which in Andalusia occupies 1.2 million hectares. This new planning will benefit more than 14,000 dehesa farms, mostly of extensive livestock, with more than two million heads of sheep, 400,000 cattle, half a million goats and more than 400,000 Iberian pigs.
The document, prepared with the participation of representative organizations of the sector and with the mandatory reports of the Andalusian Commission for the Dehesa, will have a validity of 20 years and revisions every five years. Includes 17 strategic lines to improve the profitability of the productions; address its main threats (the decline of trees and the crisis of livestock markets, among others), and enhance the environmental, social and cultural value of the areas with dehesas. Likewise, it will contribute to boost territorial cohesion and economic diversification in the almost one hundred Andalusian municipalities that have an outstanding presence of dehesas.
Among the planned measures include those aimed at the renewal of trees, with a budget forecast of more than 27 million euros, and land (almost 19 million), as well as those aimed at improving production linked to the pasture (7 , 5) and the processing industries of their products (5,8). 4.3 million euros are also recorded for the diversification of uses and economic activities; 3.7 for comprehensive planning; 3.6 for the conservation of biodiversity, and 2.4 for the improvement of basic services, infrastructures and equipment.
On the other hand, the document includes the guidelines for integral management plans, which will be developed voluntarily by the holders of the farms and whose realization is considered a priority criterion in the access to public subsidies, both agrarian and environmental.
The plan, which can be consulted on the websites of the Ministries of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, and Environment and Territorial Planning, provides for the creation of a committee responsible for monitoring and reviewing it. This collegiate body of participation and coordination will meet at least once a year and will be composed of personnel from the Administration and the sector.
In addition to the measures included in the Master Plan, the dehesas territories also benefit from the aid of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for pasture and livestock, which together amount to 119 million euros annually.
This productive system is also supported by the European project Libe Vil dehesa 2013-2018 which, with almost eight million euros, has helped to implement instruments such as a specific census, a network of demonstrative dehesas (productive and respectful with the environment) or the publication of guides to good practices, as well as a model of a comprehensive management plan for farms.
27% of the Andalusian territory is occupied by dehesas, which are also present in Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León, as well as in the Portuguese region of Alentejo. Distributed mainly by Sierra Morena and the Cadiz and Subbética mountains, a total of 99 municipalities have more than a quarter of their terms occupied by pastures and find in them the basis of their economy and their natural heritage.
Currently, the main economic activities of these territories are linked to the Iberian pig, cork, sheep, fighting bull, organic farming and rural tourism. With more than 14,000 farms in Andalusia, this agrosystem generates quality products on which more than a hundred slaughterhouses and 274 meat industries depend.
From an environmental point of view, the dehesa currently has a high level of protection guaranteed in Andalusia through regional regulations on forestry, fire fighting and natural areas, as well as the specific law to boost this production system approved by the Autonomous Parliament in 2010. The community has the Biosphere Reserve of the Sierra Morena Dehesas, declared by UNESCO in 2002 and which with its 424,000 hectares is the largest protected area of this type in Spain and one of the greatest of the planet.