Spain

Landscape partners

Aland, AlVelAl

Landscape

Altiplano Estepario, South-Eastern Spain

Total area (ha)

1,000,000

Stakeholders

1000+ (farmers, association members, businesses and other stakeholders)

Business cases identified or set up

9 identified, of which 3 have been set-up

Active since

2014 (baseline established in 2016)

The high plains of southeastern Spain are a semi-arid steppe that act as a transition zone between desert and Mediterranean forest. In the Altiplano, water scarcity, extreme climate conditions and desertification pose challenges for people living here. Yet there is the potential to restore 1,000,000 hectares of land based on sustainable business cases.

Our landscape partners in Spain, Aland and AlVelAl, work on 4 key lines of action: inspiration, the transition towards regenerative agriculture, natural zone restoration, and 4 returns business development. The farmers’ association AlVelAl is building a movement in the Altiplano. The initiative unites 5 regions: Altiplano de Granada, Los Veléz, Alto Almanzora, Guadix and the region northeast of Murcia. The movement has been gathering momentum since 2014, when Commonland mobilised local farmers, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders to co-create a common vision using the 4 Returns Framework resulting in the establishment of the AlVelAl association. The Aland Foundation, established in 2021, inspires and catalyses other landscape restoration initiatives in the Iberian Peninsula to join the 4 Returns movement by using the experiences and the impact in the Altiplano as its lighthouse example.

What happened in 2021?

The dream to restore 1 million hectares of land using regenerative agricultural practices in the combined zone, and natural zone land restoration has been validated by growing buy-in from people in the region. AlVelAl added 50 new members in 2021 for a total of nearly 400 members (see the local heroes of the Altiplano), and 10,000 new hectares were acquired bringing the total to 24,000.

In autumn 2021, Aland and AlVelAl brought people from the AlVelAl territory together for participatory workshops to co-create and further develop the landscape vision for 2050. Training and education on different aspects of regenerative practices for farmers were offered throughout the year. A combination of face-to-face and online events has kept the dream alive and thriving.

One step in regenerating the natural zone is AlVelAl’s newly initiated collaboration with partners such as Trees for All, Tree Nation and Ecosia, among others. 68,300 trees planted and 500,000 pretreated seeds of endemic species were sown particularly on the public lands of El Cortijico in the Sierra María Los Vélez Natural Park and also on the Via Verde in Baza.

Next to La Almendrehesa (2016) and Habitát (2020), this year AlVelAl launched its third 4 Returns business: AlVelAl Foods. The platform connects consumers to regenerative producers, while creating a way for more producers to join the movement of restoring the Altiplano. AlVelAl Foods offers almonds, walnuts, pistachios, honey, wine, olive oil, preserved vegetables, and aromatic herbs. Sales are predicted to come from organic shops in Spain and Europe, hotels on the Spanish coast and its online shop.

AlVelAl was recognised for its social and inclusive regenerative agriculture that leads to systemic impact. In November of 2021, AlVelAl was awarded the Annual Special Prize of the Triodos Bank Awards 2021 in the category of Social Agriculture.

A combination of efficient and inclusive practices as well as actions to preserve the biodiversity of the region led to national recognition for La Almendrehesa’s almonds. They were named one of the 10 most sustainable products in Spain by the BBVA bank and by the award-winning chefs at El Celler de Can Roca, the famous Los Hermanos Roca.

Thyme in the natural zone at La Junquera farm, Spain.

20 Million
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
> 30
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
8,000
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
2
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
  • Altiplano Estepario
  • 1 : 70

5-year ambition:

10,000+ people exposed to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration, including 400+ community members & 200+ farmers & 10+ inspired initiatives.

5-year ambition:

10,000 ha under regenerative management farming and 20,000 ha positively influenced; 8,000 ha of corridors between 3 parks established reforested successful.

5-year ambition:

500+ AlVelAl members and 100+ farmers participate
in restoration through regenerative agriculture & natural land managements, 5+ partnerships and 30+ jobs supported or created.

5-year ambition:

Increased flow of funds (> 1,000,000 EUR) toward
4 returns initiatives and 5 investors committed.

2020 Spain

  • Altiplano Estepario
  • 1 : 70

20 Million
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

10,000+ people exposed to the opportunity of 4 returns landscape restoration, including 400+ community members & 200+ farmers & 10+ inspired initiatives.

> 30
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

10,000 ha under regenerative management farming and 20,000 ha positively influenced; 8,000 ha of corridors between 3 parks established reforested successful.

8,000
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

500+ AlVelAl members and 100+ farmers participate
in restoration through regenerative agriculture & natural land managements, 5+ partnerships and 30+ jobs supported or created.

2
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

Increased flow of funds (> 1,000,000 EUR) toward
4 returns initiatives and 5 investors committed.

Good for you, Good for the planet

Consumers are increasingly looking for alternatives to healthier food choices that are beneficial for the planet.

AlVelAl Foods provides just such an alternative. In 2021, the business partners of AlVelAl launched AlVelAl Foods as a co-operative to market regenerative products from AlVelAl farmers. It’s not only a cooperative, it’s also a consumer brand offering consumers the opportunity to contribute to the restoration of the Altiplano landscape by buying regenerative groceries.

We’re already on our way to market. The website of AlVelAl Foods is live, as is the online shop.

The website of AlVelAl Foods.