Half a millennia ago, forests covered much of the Iberian peninsula. But that soon changed. Centuries of wars and invasions, agricultural expansion and woodcutting for charcoal and shipping wiped out most of the woods and transformed places like Matamorisca, a small village in northern Spain, into degraded landscapes.
The region’s arid climate and depleted soils would be a recipe for disaster in your average reforestation program, but for the Amsterdam-based Land Life Company it’s an ideal place. “We typically operate where nature does not come back by itself,” says Jurrian Ruys, its CEO. “We go where there are rougher conditions in terms of weather, with rough or very hot summers.”
In Matamorisca, they intervened in 17 barren hectares owned by the regional government and peppered them with their signature device: a biodegradable cardboard donut they call the cocoon which can hold 25 litres of water underground to aid a seedling’s first year.