The term “Empty Spain” (“La España vacía”) refers to the agricultural-reliant regions in the vast interior of Spain that have suffered massive emigrations during the rural exodus of the 1950s and 1960s. This was largely due to a political period that focused on industrialization, which resulted in the rapid development of larger cities and tourist-friendly coasts, leading to a decline in Spain’s rural population. As a result, farmers in these regions were unable to find enough labor and had to abandon their ancient trees, some of which were between 100 and 1.000 years old.
The challenges experienced by rural Spain involve a range of obstacles such as:
- Environmental degradation and ecosystem loss;
- Reduced productivity;
- Land abandonment ;
- Poor living and working conditions, including insufficient employment opportunities;
- Relocation of production and consumption; and
- An outdated Agricultural Policy that prioritizes land productivity and economic returns.
Policies focused on achieving quick economic gains by forcing the mechanization of the countryside, resulted in oversupply of workers and made small-scale farming unprofitable. The current trend of abandonment in rural Spain is closely tied to the degradation of the environment that the primary sector depends on. The intensive livestock farming, monoculture agriculture, deforestation, mining, industrialization, urbanization, and air and water pollution practices that are common today lead to serious issues like soil erosion, loss of fertility, increased acidity and salinity of the substrate, desertification, soil instability, loss of biodiversity, and the collapse of natural cycles. These factors hinder self-sufficiency and make it impossible for rural populations to subsist, leaving migration to urban areas as the only option to ensure a minimum quality of life.
Nevertheless, in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and borders closed, people realized the importance of rural areas in providing food to cities. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough local workers to tend to the orchards, leaving many crops unharvested and causing food prices to go up while people waited for the new season’s produce.
NFTrees planted in “Empty Spain”
Coorest’s initiative to purchase land and plant native trees in the “Empty Spain” area is intended to relieve multiple challenges faced by these rural areas. By engaging with small and medium farmers, Coorest aims to promote economic development, restore the environment, combat desertification, and create employment opportunities in these areas where it is specially needed.
Moreover, the long-term presence of Coorest’s projects, both in-house and onboarded, ensures that the social and financial benefits of the initiatives in “Empty Spain” will be sustained well into the future.
As a whole, Coorest’s initiative to purchase land and plant native trees in the “Empty Spain” region has the potential to create a positive impact on the environment, economy, and the livelihoods of the local communities. By promoting income generation through CO2 absorption, creating new employment opportunities, and supporting the revitalization of the region, Coorest, in collaboration with other companies and individuals involved in this ambitious project, can help address the challenges confronting rural Spain and foster its long-term development.