More than 500 years ago , the first wines of the Condado were exported, specifically from Villalba, for American lands, since then and until now, the vineyards they are part of the economy, identity, culture and festivals of these peoples, connecting with their past and keeping their traditions alive.
The first grade wine cooperatives of the towns of Almonte, Bollullos, La Palma, Manzanilla, Rociana and Villalba , belong to the second grade OnuCoop. These cooperatives cultivate practically the 100% of the vine in the Doñana Biosphere Reserve, using traditional methods, which contribute to the Doñana Natural Area climate regulation, erosion control, contribution to training of soil and contribution of habitats for species among others. Considering its maintenance and expansion, vital for the conservation of the aforementioned natural space.
The traditional cultivation of rainfed vineyards in municipalities linked to Doñana, is an expression inherited from their way of life, acting as a cohesive element between them.
The role played by the vineyard in the conservation of the protected areas of Doñana, through the dignified permanence of the different landscapes that formed it and that protect it; It is vital.
This has been highlighted in the final report of the OpenNESS project, a project that has been executed by a consortium involving more than 30 partners from various countries in Europe, funded by the FP7 program of the European Union.
The objective of the OpenNESS project is to analyze the possibilities offered by the framework of ecosystem services to improve environmental management, territorial planning and the use of natural resources.
The case study number 19 of the OpenNESS project focused on the traditional vineyards of Doñana, provides a clear example where the framework of ecosystem services can be used to improve environmental management and at the same time positively impact the socio-economic situation by promoting traditional vineyards and their multifunctionality again.
The summary of the final report of this project tells us:
The fragility of the ecosystems of Doñana, and the proximity of the agricultural fields to the protected areas, make the traditional vineyard culture the only alternative agrarian preservative of the ecosystems of this Protected Natural Area .
In the Doñana geosystem, the vineyard fixes the soil , avoids erosion and thereby slows down the clogging of streams and streams that flow into the marsh , the disappearance of this crop has a negative impact on the rest of the space. Also in the environment of the forest areas, the vine is distributed in a mosaic that acts as a refuge for game species and as a firebreak; performing a key task as ecological corridor, facilitating the transit of fauna and favoring biological connectivity between the different agricultural areas and those of the Doñana park.
The traditional cultivation of the Doñana vineyard, brings together functions and values that far exceed its role as an agricultural producer, is a unifying crop, cohesive in terms of family and territorial relations, is part of the backbone of a space who wants to be a national and European benchmark for the efficient practice of sustainability.
It allows to keep alive traditional agricultural practices, many of them today at risk of disappearance.
One of the main objectives of the OpenNESS project is to contribute to the elaboration of concrete management proposals that are designed in direct collaboration with the stakeholders. For this reason, each case study of the OpenNESS should have an advisory committee constituted by local actors for the implementation of the ecosystem services framework. The measures proposed by the committee have been:
- Improve marketing.
- Encourage wine tourism.
- Payment for environmental services.
- Direct support to the farmer.
- Enhance social awareness of environmental and cultural benefits.
- Tax policies.
The surfaces of this agrarian system are occupied by the autochthonous zalema variety, which is characterized by being perfectly adapted to the soil and climate conditions of this environment and not needing the scarce water resource, contributing to the conservation fromthis resource increasingly scarce.
Our wines and vinegars are fundamental elements in the local gastronomic tradition, and they represent benefits for health and quality of life.
The traditional cultivation of the vineyard is part of the identity of Doñana, its wines under the designation of origin Condado de Huelva, already have a quality endorsed in numerous national and international competitions.
The enhancement of these Discovery wines is scarce , as well as the percentage of bottled wines, also for this reason the final profitability of the product is low and it becomes one of the main reasons why the crop tends to disappear in the Doñana Biosphere Reserve.
In the last 35 years, the area used for cultivation has been reduced by 83%, from 15,500 hectares to 2,615. This has generated several ecological problems, including an increase in erosion rates that have negatively affected the Doñana Natural Area, accelerating the clogging of the marsh, and leading to the loss of various environmental values.
Holdings they are markedly small farmers, 95% of them have less than five hectares.
The costs of the crop are high, above € 3,000 per hectare and a unit cost of between 0.31 and € 0.33 per kilo of grapes (data from a study of the Junta de Andalucía in 2005). The average liquidations of recent years in the wine cooperatives has been 0.12 € kilo of grapes, covering only 35% of the estimated cost. The crops are only sustainable due to the contribution of family labor, which due to the absence of generational change, as a result of the negative profitability of the agricultural holdings; they tend to disappear, with serious consequences for the Protected Spaces of Doñana.
The start of vineyards promoted by the EU, the low price of grapes, the lack of generational change and the substitution of other crops more profitable, although needing more inputs and with more negative repercussions in relation to environmental aspects; They have made the traditional cultivation of the vineyard a species in danger of extinction.
The political actions aimed at the maintenance of traditional agricultural spaces, as well as rural development plans, have not had the desired effect on our culture. , when they arrive, if they arrive, it is still too late.
In this sense, a budgetary effort and a political will are needed to cover the new functions of agriculture, among them the safeguarding of natural values, landscaping and cultural. This multifunctionality is the real argument for defending community aid from many agrosystems that are not adapted to the competitiveness of markets, among which we can mention the environmental value of the Doñana vineyards.
The positive contribution of the vineyards from rainfed to the general objective of conservation of the environment, can find its return in the reinforcement of the value of the final product by its origin and by the environmental quality of the process.
In these moments, its maintenance from the point of economic view, it is less expensive than taking other measures necessary for the conservation of the National and Natural Park of Doñana, which would be necessary if this crop were lost in the environment.
For all the above, from the cooperative of Second degree OnuCoop: We defend the socio-economic, cultural and environmental value of the traditional Doñana vineyard crop, as the best sustainable agricultural activity in the area. So this must be economically profitable, environmentally sound and socially fair.
And we focus our efforts on two courses of action; on the one hand, to seek recognition of the importance of maintaining and growing the traditional vineyard crop, and that this recognition should be translated into direct aid to the farmer, and on the other, to commercially value the quality and uniqueness of different wines and unique, for all the reasons discussed above.