Multi-specific plantation of semiarid woody species on terraces with stone walls in ravines and gullies [Spain]

Plantación pluriespecífica de especies leñosas de ambiente semiárido en terrazas con pared de piedra sobre barrancos y c

technologies_1649 - Spain

Completeness: 67%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Urgeghe Anna Maria

Universidad de Alicante


SLM specialist:

Guixot Lorena

Universidad de Alicante


Government official:

Bartual Miguel

Conselleria de infrastructuras, territorio y medioambiente


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Catastrophic shifts in drylands (EU-CASCADE)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Conselleria de infrastructuras, territorio y medioambiente - Spain
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Universidad de Alicante (Universidad de Alicante) - Spain

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Plantation of native semiarid woody species on small terraces with stone walls on ravines and gullies

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


This technology is a restoration technology implemented on ravines and gullies in a degraded semiarid mountain range. The restoration technology consisted of a plantation of seedlings of a variety of native woody species, mostly shrubs, on terraces with stone walls. Using planting holes, one or two rows of seedlings were established on each terrace; Seedlings were protected from extreme radiation and predation by biodegradable seedling shelters. The target area was highly degraded due to long-term overexploitation of resources under harsh environmental conditions. Failed previous reforestation actions on bench terraces led to further degradation in some areas. Degradation resulted in lack of riparian vegetation on the ramblas (ravines with intermittent flow), soil erosion, development of gullies, and frequent floods. To address this problem, the Forest Administration implemented a restoration program on the ravines and gullies of the south-facing side of the Albatera-Crevillente mountain range. The program was implemented in 2006-07.

Purpose of the Technology: The purpose of the restoration was control of concentrated erosion in gullies and ravines; mitigation of landscape degradation; flood prevention; restoration of diversity and cover of vegetation on a degraded semiarid mountain range.

Natural / human environment: The target area is the south-facing side of a mountain range in a semiarid area of Southeast Spain. Exploitation of resources over centuries, mostly grazing and wood gathering, under harsh environmental conditions, led to very low plant cover, mostly consisting of dwarf shrubs sparsed in a matrix of bare soil, lack of riparian vegetation on the ramblas (ravines with intermittent flow), soil erosion, development of gullies, and frequent floods. The exploitation of the land was drastically reduced during the second half of the XXth century due to the general rural land abandonment trend that started in Spain around the 1950’s driven by critical socio-economic changes such as the use of fossil fuels and the sharp increase in activity in the tourism and services business sectors, mostly in the coast land. However, despite the reduction, or even complete abandonment, of rural activity on the mountain range area, there was no sign of spontaneous recovery from degradation. Soil erosion and floods were of major concern for the resource managers in the area (Public Forest Administration), and a number of reforestation and restoration programs have been implemented in the area, with varying degree of success. In more recent decades, new pressures appeared in the mountain area, such as agricultural expansion into the range area (1970s), mining activities (late 1990’s - early 2000’s), and urbanization (2000s). Rural tourism and recreation are new activities in the mountain range area. For the time being, the intensity of these activities is low to moderate. However there is already some evidence of incipient degradation associated to recreation, and some regulation is being demanded by environmental NGOs

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:


Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 1-10 km2

Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 5.7 km2.

The MST was applied on the south-facing side of Albatera-Crevillente mountain range. The area consisted of a sequence of southeast and southwest-facing slopes with small ravines (barrrancos) in between. The MST was specifically applied to ravines and gullies.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • preserve/ improve biodiversity
  • reduce risk of disasters

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Land use mixed within the same land unit:


Forest/ woodlands

Forest/ woodlands

Products and services:
  • Other forest products
  • Nature conservation/ protection
  • Recreation/ tourism
Unproductive land

Unproductive land


Trees/ shrubs species: Olea europaea var sylvestris, Ephedra fragilis, Pistacia lentiscus and Pinus halepensis


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Erosion, water scarcity, low productivity, loss of soil functions (water infiltration, nutrient cycling), low biodiversity, loss of landscape structure, flood risk

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Low productivity, aridity, limiting conditions for tree cover, erosion

Plantation forestry: Without exploitation

Forest products and services: nature conservation / protection, recreation / tourism

Future (final) land use (after implementation of SLM Technology): Forests / woodlands: Fn: Natural

3.3 Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?


The program was implemented in 2006-07.

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • improved ground/ vegetation cover
  • cross-slope measure

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V1: Tree and shrub cover
structural measures

structural measures

  • S1: Terraces

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wg: gully erosion/ gullying
  • Wo: offsite degradation effects
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
  • Bq: quantity/ biomass decline
  • Bs: quality and species composition/ diversity decline
water degradation

water degradation

  • Ha: aridification
  • Hs: change in quantity of surface water

Main type of degradation addressed: Wg: gully erosion / gullying, Wo: offsite degradation effects

Secondary types of degradation addressed: Bc: reduction of vegetation cover, Bq: quantity / biomass decline, Bs: quality and species composition /diversity decline, Ha: aridification, Hs: change in quantity of surface water

Main causes of degradation: deforestation / removal of natural vegetation (incl. forest fires) (Agricultural land expansion. Starting in 1965, peaking in late 1970’s), over-exploitation of vegetation for domestic use (Peaking during 1940’s), poverty / wealth (Poverty)

Secondary causes of degradation: overgrazing (Peaking during 1940’s), industrial activities and mining (Late 1990’s - early 2000’s), urbanisation and infrastructure development (Last 10 years), droughts, population pressure (Relative demographic pressure given the low productivity of the land), land tenure (Lack of proper land demarcation until late 1990’s - early 2000’s, leading to misuse and mismanagement of public land)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation


Main goals: rehabilitation / reclamation of denuded land

Secondary goals: prevention of land degradation, mitigation / reduction of land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate (Needed for field implementation: soil preparation, planting techniques)

Technical knowledge required for land users: high (Land users are Forest Administration staff. High technical knowledge is require for the design of technology implementation)

Main technical functions: control of dispersed runoff: retain / trap, control of dispersed runoff: impede / retard, control of concentrated runoff: retain / trap, control of concentrated runoff: impede / retard, reduction of slope angle

Secondary technical functions: control of raindrop splash, reduction of slope length, improvement of ground cover, increase of surface roughness, improvement of surface structure (crusting, sealing), improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), stabilisation of soil (eg by tree roots against land slides), increase in organic matter, increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…), increase of infiltration, increase / maintain water stored in soil, sediment retention / trapping, sediment harvesting, increase of biomass (quantity), promotion of vegetation species and varieties (quality, eg palatable fodder)

Vegetative measure: Staggered pattern
Vegetative material: T : trees / shrubs
Number of plants per (ha): 610
Spacing between rows / strips / blocks (m): 5
Vertical interval within rows / strips / blocks (m): 5

Vegetative measure: Vegetative material: T : trees / shrubs

Vegetative measure: Vegetative material: T : trees / shrubs

Vegetative measure: Vegetative material: T : trees / shrubs

Trees/ shrubs species: Olea europaea var sylvestris, Ephedra fragilis, Pistacia lentiscus and Pinus halepensis

Wall/ barrier
Height of bunds/banks/others (m): 1-2
Width of bunds/banks/others (m): 1
Length of bunds/banks/others (m): variable

Terrace: bench level
Vertical interval between structures (m): 1-2
Spacing between structures (m): 4-6
Length of bunds/banks/others (m): 3-6

Construction material (other): sandbag

Slope (which determines the spacing indicated above): 25%

Lateral gradient along the structure: 0%

Vegetation is used for stabilisation of structures.

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Building small walls and terraces in ravines and gullies
2. Soil preparation and planting holes during winter
3. Soil and microcatchment preparation during winter
4. Fertilization plantation (holes) Winter
5. Fertilization microcatchment Winter
6. Plantation (in holes) during winter
7. Plantation (microcatchments) during winter
8. Tree shelter placement late winter
9. tree shelter placement (Microcatchments) late winter

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour ha 1.0 1796.0 1796.0 100.0
Equipment Machine use ha 1.0 853.0 853.0 100.0
Plant material Seedlings ha 1.0 252.0 252.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides Compost/manure ha 1.0 154.0 154.0 100.0
Other Three shelters ha 1.0 424.0 424.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 3479.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 4403.8

Duration of establishment phase: 5 month(s)

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)


Machinery/ tools: Walking Excavator

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

280 mm (mean 1958 – 2007) Rainy seasons: spring and autumn

Agro-climatic zone
  • semi-arid

Thermal climate class: subtropics

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • not relevant

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil texture is medium (Sandy- loam (dominant))
Soil fertility is low
Soil drainage/infiltration is good
Soil water storage capacity is medium

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

> 50 m

Availability of surface water:

poor/ none

Water quality (untreated):

for agricultural use only (irrigation)

Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

Water quality (untreated): For agricultural use only (irrigation)(groundwater)

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Off-farm income:
  • > 50% of all income
Individuals or groups:
  • employee (company, government)
  • women
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly Leaders / privileged

Population density: 100-200 persons/km2

Annual population growth: 2% - 3%

Market orientation of production system: No forestry production

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • large-scale

Public land

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • state
Land use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-cultural impacts

recreational opportunities


SLM/ land degradation knowledge


Improved livelihoods and human well-being

Comments/ specify:

Recreational use

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

harvesting/ collection of water


surface runoff




soil moisture


soil cover


soil loss


nutrient cycling/ recharge


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

biomass/ above ground C


plant diversity


animal diversity


beneficial species


habitat diversity


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

downstream flooding


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm not well
local windstorm not known
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought not well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not known

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

Links and modules

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