Author: Cristina Quintas-Soriano and Antonios J. Castro (University of Almeria)
Mediterranean agricultural landscapes are visibly shaped by human practices where traditional land management has endured over millennia. These landscapes are currently threatened by factors including urban migration and ageing populations, which are directly affecting local communities. Women in rural areas in Spain are key for the territory and the social structure, as they act as the main vector for rural innovation and entrepreneurship. However, in rural areas there are still scenarios of inequality between women and men to a greater degree than in urban areas. In a time where rural land abandonment represents a change trajectory with important impacts on social-ecological systems, it is urgent to delineate strategies for preserving these areas that support local communities, specially women, and their wellbeing.
The EU-funded SCALABLE project 2021-2023 (Social-ecological pathways and gender perspectives for future conservation of biocultural mountain agroecosystems) is coordinated by the University of Almería, Spain. It aims to identify how gender equity can promote pathways for the future conservation of mountain agricultural landscapes in the biocultural regions of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in southern Spain. This project will evaluate current and future biocultural practices, map biocultural practices as elements for landscape conservation and the ecosystem services provided using a gender perspective, and identify future pathways to secure local well-being and biocultural landscape conservation to foster gender equity and landscape sustainability, helping support the future development of rural areas in the south of Spain.
Initial fieldwork activities started a few months ago with preliminary visits, contacts with local communities and a later social sampling in the region of Las Alpujarras (Almeria, Spain). A semi-structured survey has started to be carried out, designed to identify main perceived drivers of change in the region and their connection to the loss of biocultural practices. In addition, two masters students at the University of Almería are currently developing their research projects within SCALABLE; Carmen López-Zayas by identifying leverage points for human-nature re-connectedness in the context of rural abandonment, and Caterina Recalde with the goal to identify specific activities which confront land abandonment and creating human well-being in the area.
Future activities will be developed in coming months toward participatory workshops to elaborate future scenarios for this area. To follow the progress of the project and updates you can follow us on ResearchGate and Twitter.