Finca Comunal Siruela

Finca Comunal Siruela

1. Context

Dehesa of Siruela pilot farm is located in the municipality of Siruela, in Badajoz. The municipality of Siruela is the owner of the farm, which covers an area of 7,500 ha. The dehesa is largely within RN2000. The farm has a communal management, in which different farmers and livestock breeders of the municipality lease lots of the same for their exploitation on an annually basis. The farm is divided into areas with cereal crops and fallow areas for sheep pasture. Crops are rotated every four years. There is an area of the farm that is not suitable for sowing, being used only as permanent pasture for livestock.

The dehesa habitat in general is quite degraded, with limited regeneration of trees and practically no brush. The holm oaks are very old.

During the previous visit to the farm in the spring of 2022, some interesting elements and places for the implementation of the project actions were identified:

• The meadow is crossed in its northern part by a royal cattle track (not yet demarcated) that the municipality wants to recover (Vías pecuarias has required them to act on several occasions). So they plan to install a fence this year to delimit the cattle track for several kilometers. This is an element that can be considered in the project.

• There is the option of reserving an area of the farm (extension to be considered according to budget and agreement with the city council), in the area of non-arable permanent pastures, to concentrate different actions of regeneration, planting of islands of biodiverse scrub, naturalization of livestock pond, wildlife refuges, etc…). This area could be fenced perimetrically to ensure protection against livestock and wild animals, and act within it. Small ponds for amphibians and reptiles could be included in this area (actions to improve water points).

• An existing livestock pond is identified in which naturalization and study of a model for improvement in a livestock pond is proposed.

2. Actions

Following the two visits, the specific actions to be implemented on this farm in relation to actions C1, C2, C3 and C4 are defined below:

2.1 Action 1

Taking advantage of the element of the glen and looking for its valorization and conditioning to comply with the regulations, the following works will be carried out:

 We will act on the right margin of the same, in the section that the town hall is going to fence (taking advantage of the fact that the left margin is going to be wired by the town hall, so that with our action a section of the same will be perfectly demarcated and protected). We have initially proposed about 2.5 km of linear action, but in the final budget assessment this length will be adjusted. A few meters of distance from the road will be left to avoid its influence in the initial part.

 In this area there will be a discontinuous ridge, respecting stone areas, watercourses, etc., and partial enclosure with an electric shepherd (on the left margin), planting on the ridge a biodiverse hedge in a linear arrangement, together with encapsulated acorns, inside the enclosure.

 In this linear structure, some temporary ponds for amphibians will be installed, taking advantage of the runoff areas (the ridge is discontinuous in runoff areas and these areas can be used to create small temporary ponds for amphibians).

Road parallel to the glen running through the property
2.2 Action 2

Pond naturalization and testing of a livestock pond model with livestock access transferable to other farms: In the pond selected in the first visit, a partial enclosure will be made, reserving only one area of the pond, and allowing free access to livestock in the other unprotected area. Given that in the project we are going to naturalize by means of a complete enclosure model in other farms, here we will study a partial enclosure with cattle access in a part of it, to see how the pond evolves in comparison with the other models.

 An enclosure will be made in the steepest area of the pond, where the earth wall that delimits the pond on one side and its drainage is located. It would be about 200 linear meters of enclosure, where inside some species linked to water areas, scrub, etc., will be planted in order to establish themselves on that area, taking advantage of the protection.

In the unprotected, shallower area, which will be left free for cattle to drink. It is proposed to install in the non-flood zone some “type” islands of scrubland (following the proposal agreed at the meeting with IRNAS), protected from livestock (boxes). The ideal would be to install 10 in order to be another experimentation point of the scrubland islands model, apart from the one that will be located in the protected area of Action 3.

2.3 Action 3

Reserve zone. In order to reach an adequate budget balance and avoid too much cost in enclosure too much cost in enclosure (with the objective of having some more money available for improvements in plantations, ponds, ridges, hedges, islands, …) at least 1.5 hectares will be enclosed (about 500 linear meters of enclosure). Within this area, the following will be carried out:

 Creation of swales in the most favorable areas.

 10 scrub islands following the model proposed by IRNAS. In the event that the islands have to extend over an area larger than 1.5 hectares, we can consider taking some islands out of this reserve area and protect them individually.

 Improvement of livestock pond (without access to livestock) and installation of a watering trough outside the protected area. The municipality will do its own previous work to improve the pond, spreading the mounds of earth around it and leaving the pond with a more integrated and natural appearance. Some plantings of interesting species can be considered on the margins, although a very interesting natural regeneration of the pond is expected just by delimiting the access to the livestock, since it is located in an area where water flows and there is vegetation.

 Installation of stone gabions, within the protected area, at three points where water flows, creating small fountain-like pools of water, and protecting the sides of these.