The Altiplano Estepario (translated as “high plateau steppe”) is located in Andalusia and Murcia in Southern Spain. This depopulated countryside is home to 250,000 inhabitants in 2018 and is one of the poorest and driest zones of Spain. The area was affected by 40% unemployment rate, monocropping, deforestation, and agricultural subsidy dependency, but also comprises thousands of hectares of natural parks, rich biodiversity and cultural history.

Figure 1. Altiplano geography and conditions

The Altiplano does not consist of one general landscape, but of many specific landscapes where everything is intertwined – desert, greener areas, wetlands along the rivers, trees on the mountain slopes, and populated zones. Forested areas are typically located on the mountain slopes, where productive activity is not possible due to the gradient or the rocky soil.

Land is both public and private. It was important for Commonland to engage and align with local governments, natural park authorities as well as private landowners.

In 2014 Commonland initiated the movement AlVelAl to implement regenerative agriculture at scale, to create the demand for regenerative produce and to restore natural zones on farms and on public land.

After four years of combined effort and continued commitment from all stakeholders, the initiative grew to what it was in 2018: 85 farmers actively working with sustainable and regenerative practices on 7,700 hectares of land; 12 direct and 30 indirect jobs created; and 4 business cases identified (almonds, olive oil, compost, and tourism).

Figure 2. AlVelAl factsheet 2018

Figure 3. Business case in the Altiplano