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Tamera water retention landscape to restore the water cycle and reduce vulnerability to droughts

Tamera, a farm of 154 ha, is located in the most arid region of Portugal (Alentejo). This area has shown significant trends of increasing erosion and desertification and climate change will most probably exacerbate these issues. Tamera has managed to counteract such trends of increasing erosion and desertification through the creation of a “Water Retention Landscape” (WRL) comprised of a system of lakes and of other retention systems, and also including other structures such as terraces, swales and rotational grazing ponds. This approach to water management has created a regenerative basis for autonomous water supply, the regeneration of topsoil, forest, pasture and food production, and greater diversity of wild species.

Progressive desertification is currently one of the biggest problems in southern EU countries. In the Iberian Peninsula, especially in the south, decades of incorrect water and land use management have triggered a dramatic desertification process. The Alentejo region of Portugal, is considered an arid region: the erosion process has progressed so rapidly and extensively in this area that the humus topsoil has disappeared. This humus soil layer, which was shaded and rooted by plants, is fundamental to soak up the rainwater and thus to give the water time to seep into the deeper ground layers and fill up the underground aquifers. Moreover, it acts as a buffer contributing to prevent floods and to increased water quality in streams and aquifers.

Climate change is expected to further increase desertification in this area. The Mediterranean drylands have been identified as one of the most prominent regions affected by climate change projections (temperature rise) larger than any other European region. Increase in heat waves, together with a decrease in precipitation, envision a future of increased risk of desertification and biodiversity loss for most of southern Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece.

The projected increases in frequency and severity of drought events can strongly affect soil erosion, loss of top soil and nutrients flow and availability. These issues are directly connected with the capability of ecosystems to deliver key services, such as water purification, and with agriculture productivity and human habitability of such regions. The full case study you can read here.



Christoph Ulbig
Coordinator of Education and Research
Tamera - Peace Research Center
Monte do Cerro, Portugal, 7630-303 Colos
E-mail: christoph.ulbig [at]

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