Thursday, July 7

Cows with GPS in the Marjal de Pego-Oliva to recover grazing and protect fauna

In the past, the Marjal de Pego-Oliva had a long tradition of serving as summer pasture for numerous herds of wild cattle. Currently there is only one active rancher left in this wetland, and with him work is being done on the recovery of this activity on a larger scale. For this, new technologies will be used to make the recovery of this tradition compatible with the protection and promotion of the fauna that inhabits the space.

Behind this initiative is the FundaciĆ³n Global Nature (FGN), which acquired two years ago, thanks to European funding, 27 cows, three steers and a rustic ox that it left in the care of Francisco Panella, the only rancher established in the marjal, through a territory custody agreement.

The experience consists of placing five GPS collars on the leading animals of the herd, the male and four adult females, which will allow their behavior to be monitored. The use of this technology, acquired by FGN with the help granted by the Bancaja Foundation and CaixaBank within the ‘III Environmental Call’, will have multiple applications when it comes to managing both livestock and natural resources for optimal productivity and sustainable.

With the monitoring of the location by satellite, maps will be prepared that will mark the movement patterns of the cattle. In this way, it will be possible to indicate the areas of the wetland most frequented by cattle and, by evaluating these areas, it will be possible to obtain information on the species of flora or birds that occupy these new habitats generated by the herd. The objective is that the reintroduction of this type of cattle favors the diversity of the habitat with the appearance of clearings between the great masses of reeds thanks to the ingestion of vegetation and the trampling of paths and rest areas.

introduction of birds

In addition, in this same project the reintroduction of specimens of marsh bunting is proposed, a bird typical of European wetlands and that in Spain is threatened, and that will serve as reinforcement in the populations that are in the Pego-Marjal area. Olive. These reintroductions are coordinated by the Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology of the University of Valencia and the wildlife service of the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

With regard to livestock farming, thanks to the sale of meat, the currently only livestock farmer in the wetland can maintain his activity. This is intended to generate an economic resource in the territory that will open up prospects for other ranchers and enable them to review their current management strategies, improving performance and productivity.

The use of GPS technology seeks to increase support for other current environmental studies such as the one carried out in the Pego-Oliva marsh within the European project Life Wetlands4Climate to evaluate the role of extensive livestock farming in the carbon balance of wetlands and to know thus the capacity of these ecosystems to cope with climate change.

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