Effects of economic and demographic growth on the ecosystems of arid southeastern Spain, The

man-made desert: Effects of economic and demographic growth on the ecosystems of arid southeastern Spain, The

Latorre, Juan Garcia

The European Desert

Southeastern Spain is the most and zone in Europe, the only one that contains genuine deserts. The province of Almeria is particularly characterized by its aridity (see Figure 1). The most surprising feature of this province is the desert and scrubland aspect of its landscape that resembles that of the American Southwest. Many Westerns, including Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name series and the famous Lawrence of Arabia, were filmed in Almeria. Until a short time ago, scholars gave little thought to the question of the natural or anthropic origin of these ecosystems.

Based on a study of current vegetation, researchers (traditional phytosociologists) have accepted shrublands as the natural vegetation for about 75 percent of the province (lands under Boo-i,ooo meters above sea level). According to these researchers, oak woodlands would have existed only in the mountains above 900i,ooo meters above sea level.’ Inquisitive historians or naturalists will be dramatically surprised when they examine the ecological history of this region.

Archaeological remains, as well as historical documents and place-names, prove that forests played an important role in this territory up to the nineteenth century, and that a great diversity of fauna, including forest species such as the bear (Ursos arctos), lynx (Lynx pardina), deer (Cervus elaphus), and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) roamed the area up to the early modern period.

Forest ecosystems under extremely arid conditions are presently known in other parts of the world, in Chile and North Africa in particular. In addition, palaeoecological and historical research has demonstrated the presence of forests in arid zones of the Mediterranean area in historical times. Forests change the environment. The special soil structure under the forest canopy facilitates water infiltration, avoids erosion, and regulates stream flow.’

Human disturbances began in the Copper and Bronze Ages and probably increased during the Roman Empire.; However, the geomorphological investigations carried out on the fluvial terraces of the rivers Almanzora, Antas, and Aguas indicate that higher sedimentation/erosion rates have taken place in the last five hundred years. This is also suggested by the presence of modern pottery found in sediments covering these terraces.4

The current landscape was formed primarily in modern times as an inadvertent effect of economic activities. Agricultural expansion, mining, which consumed large amounts of wood, and a demographic explosion destroyed the forests, provoked great erosive processes and totally altered the ecosystems of the zone.

The environment and the landscape in which the Los Millares and El Argar cultures evolved were indeed different from those of the present, but he climate seems to have been very similar. No great climatic changes in southeastern Spain have been detected since 2000 BC. The role that the impoverishment and loss of soil due to erosion may have played in the disappearance of these prehistoric cultures is now the subject of new inquiries by researchers.

Almeria has a typical Mediterranean rainfall regime, but rain in some places on the coast totals less than 200 mm per year. In the rest of the province, 250-350 mm is the ordinary range, increasing to 400-500 mm on the mountain tops (sierras). An irregular intra- and interannual pattern characterizes the rainfall regime. High temperatures and intense sunshine cause a high rate of evapotranspiration.

Five rugged mountain ranges-Sierra Nevada, Sierra de Filabres, Sierra de Filabres, Sierra de Cador, Sierra Alhamilla, and Sierra de Maria-some of them over 2,000 meters high, cross the territory from west to east. Between these sierras isolated basins and plains are crossed by seasonal rivers (ramblas) that flow only after it rains.

The Surprising History of the Desert

Palaeoecological research has been carried out almost exclusively in archaeological sites from the Copper and Bronze Ages that belong to the cultures of Los Millares and El Argar, 2500-1300 BC in the most arid zones of the province. Millaric and Argaric peoples used not only scrub but also pines (black pine [Pious nigra], aleppo pine [Pines halepensis], cluster pine [Pines pinaster]), evergreen oaks (Quercus ilex), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), and even deciduous oaks (Quercus faginea) as firewood. Some relicts of these deciduous forests have been recently found. To find these oaks in such an arid region is extraordinary. In addition, forest animals– bear, roe deer, and deer-roamed Almeria at that time. These finds recur in every archaeological site of southeastern Spain.

Studies carried out on fresh- and salt-water molluscs found in the rivers of the southeast also indicate that these rivers, although nowadays normally dry, contained water both regularly and continuously in the Copper Age. Likewise, the mouths of the rivers Andarax, Almanzora, Antas, and Adra were between 2 and 8 km further inland than their current positions, which gives an idea of the magnitude reached by the erosive phenomena.6

The first references to the landscapes of southeastern Spain were written in the Roman era. Strabo, in his Geography, described the mountains of southeastern Spain as “covered with thick woods and gigantic trees” and Avienus, in the fourth century, was the first to report the destruction of forests, specifically pinewoods, on the coast of Almeria.7 He even mentions an old Greek place-name on this desert coast: Cape Pityusas, or Pines Cape.’ Pollen research carried out close to this cape has confirmed the presence of pinewoods (Pines sp.) at an early date.) These ancient observations are tantalizingly brief.

During the Roman era, the Mediterranean ecosystems suffered an unprecedented assault.'” The expansion of the cities and dry farming crops such as cereals, vines, and olive trees, together with a significant demographic upswing, were the principal causes. It is possible that some areas of the current province of Almeria then reached population densities that were again unknown until the eighteenth century.” In addition, the southeast had a leading role as an exporter of minerals such as lead and silver. Between the Punic and Roman periods the first episode of economic specialization and a link with international commercial networks occurred. These episodes have been repeated in various occasions throughout history, and they have frequently led to sudden demographic “booms” and acute environmental disturbances.

Thirty sites with signs of mining activity from the Roman era have been located in southeastern Spain. Although the environmental effects of this activity are uncertain, important clues exist. Polybius described the mining landscapes of the southeast as “arid and sterile mountains.”12 In the Sierra of Cartagena, where as many as 40,000 miners were concentrated, the remains of Roman mines, slag heaps, and foundries cover an area of 14.8 km long by 6 km wide. The slag abandoned by the Carthaginians and the Romans was again exploited in the sixteenth century and again with more intensity in the nineteenth century. In the year 1848 alone, 1,102,481 tons were recycled.’3 The use of wood in the foundries and for pit props in the mines must have been considerable. In 1944, it was discovered that some ancient Roman mines had galleries that went down as far as 300 meters, and contained walls that were buttressed with “large masses of pinewood.”`4111 the third century AD, the Roman world went into crisis and eventually collapsed in the fifth century. Almost all the cities in the southeast disappeared and the population declined. It is probable that the environment experienced a long period of recovery from this time after centuries of intense exploitation.

There is no detailed evidence of the state of the environment before the fourteenth century when more accurate written descriptions of the landscapes and the fauna again became common. King Alfonso XI, in his fourteenth-century Hunting Book, tells us how and where to hunt bears, wild boars (Sus scrofa) and deer in southeastern Spain, even in very and places such as El Cabezo de la Jara, between the provinces of Murcia and Almeria, or on an island near the coast which is presently called “Island of the Deer.”15 This and other texts from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries describe the same animals, as well as roe deer, wolves (Canis lupus), the common crane (Grs grs) -a bird associated with open oak woodlands, otters (Lutra lutra), and an exotic and mysterious animal known in the Middle Ages as zebra or “encebra” in Spain and Portugal.” What were zebras doing in Europe? They were, in fact, a wild equine breed, probably the extinct Equus hydruntinus. At the end of the last glaciation, their range encompassed only the three Mediterranean peninsulas, Iberia, Italy, and the Balkans, and that range continued to contract until medieval times. The last place in the world where this animal lived before its extinction was likely in the north of Almeria, where the encebra survived until the sixteenth century.17 When Iberian sailors arrived in southern Africa they found a similar animal and named it the zebra.

Frequent references to the medieval landscape describe forest vegetation formations that are currently unknown in Almeria. Oak and pine forests were extensive. Some species such as the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), considered a bioindicator of fertile and deep soils, and the cork oak (Quercus saber), now very scarce in Almeria, characterized many places.’8 In short, it seems that the land contained an enormous wooded surface inhabited by a fauna characteristic of forests.

Christian and Muslims in the Spanish Middle Ages: Two Societies, Two Environments

In the eighth century AD, the greater part of the Iberian Peninsula was invaded and conquered by Arab and Berber tribes. Only a small mountainous strip of land to the north of the country withstood the attack. Between the eighth and tenth centuries the two zones developed in different ways. The Christian territory in the north became a feudal society similar to the rest of western Europe. The southern half of the peninsula, Al-Andalus in Arabic, evolved into an Islamic society more akin to those in North Africa or the Middle East than to European societies. Each zone developed its own, very different processes of colonization in the sense given to that expression by IVI. Fisher-Kowalski and H. Haberl. 9

The European feudal societies revolved around two fundamental elements: on the one hand, peasant communities that were obliged to grow crops, or cereals, especially suitable as surplus produce. They could be easily stored and preserved for a long time. On the other hand, a warrior class, who entrenched in their castles, closely watched over and controlled the peasant class and took possession of the surplus. This arrangement acted on the landscape between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries by causing the disappearance of 50 percent of the forest cover in Europe and replacing it with an immense mosaic of wheat, barley, and rye.20

Until a few years ago there was no clear understanding of the Spanish Islamic society. Although much still remains to be investigated, we can now affirm that it was a 11 tributary society Peasant communities organized in clans of tribal origin, and there was an Islamic state that tried to control them, but not so strongly as the European feudal lords controlled their peasants. There were neither nobles nor feudal domains nor feudal fortresses. Many castles belonged to the peasant class, something unthinkable in the feudal world.

The peasants freely organized the production and seemingly concentrated their efforts on irrigation crops such as fruits and vegetables. They also grew cereals but to a lesser extent than in the feudal societies. Irrigation became the key to an entire system of production designed to create these perishable crops.=

Beginning in the eleventh century, the small feudal kingdoms of the north began to attack Al-Andalus, to occupy its territory and to exterminate the Muslims. This process of conquest and colonization, which lasted until the fifteenth century, has traditionally been referred to as the “Reconquest” (see Figure z). The existence of a long and dangerous frontier between the Christian and Muslim sectors, together with the demographic weakness of the northern kingdoms, meant that many of the areas conquered by the Christians were used as pasture for enormous flocks of sheep and cattle. This mobile form of wealth was very suitable for a frontier feudal society, and it persisted for centuries.

By the end of the thirteenth century, Al-Andalus, Islamic Spain, had been reduced to the tiny Kingdom of Granada, which was conquered in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand.

Bears and “Paradises”

Until the end of the fifteenth century, Almeria was part of the Kingdom of Granada, the last Islamic state in Spain. In 1494, two years after the Castilian conquest, the traveler J. Winzer, who came from the Tyrol in the Austrian Alps, crossed the country and wrote in his diary: “There are so many bears, deer, roe deer and wild boars in the mountains that it seems incredible,” and “the land is cultivated only where it is possible to irrigate.” “Paradises” and “gardens” are the words he uses to describe the irrigated fields (the “vegas”) that surrounded villages and towns.’3

In the late sixteenth century, the Spanish bureaucracy commissioned detailed quantitative reports from villages on demographic and economic matters, land-use systems, crops, and irrigation systems. These surveys offer the most important features that characterized the agriculture and the economy of Almeria.2 The territory was sparsely populated (see Figure 3 and Table 1): 70,ooo inhabitants in 149o and 55,000 in 1568, an average of six inhabitants per km=. But the most surprising aspect was the small size of the cultivated area: about 50,ooo hectares in 1568, only about 6 percent of the province’s surface (see Table 2). Irrigated crops (9,000 hectares) represented around 18 percent of the total cultivated surface, the rest being dry farming crops. The proportion of irrigated areas to the total cultivated surface was small, but the same percentage would not be reached again until the second half of the twentieth century after the introduction of modern technology. Despite the small area occupied by irrigation it was the basis of the economy as a result of the high yields it produced.

The cultivation system was very different from that practiced in feudal Europe. At its core, it was an agroforestry system. In the irrigated areas, all kinds of fruit trees were interspersed with herbaceous crops, palms, and vegetables. Muslim peasants harvested several crops each year and cultivated exotic species such sugar cane, and oranges that would not naturally grow in a Mediterranean climate simply as a result of using their irrigation systems. They did not clear or deforest wide areas as they would have done if they had based their economy on a dry farming system. Under the environmental conditions of the zone, dry farming cultivation involved large expanses of land, enormous deforestation, very low yields, and long fallow.

In their origins in the tenth through eleventh centuries, these irrigation systems were not only a way of protecting crops against drought but also consequence of the egalitarian tribal structure of the Islamic communities and a way or preventing the rise of landlords.25 The principal means of production, the irrigation systems, belonged collectively to the communities, and it appears that the land was not owned privately, but belonged to each clan.

Christian Spaniards, who lived in a feudal society based on cereal cultivation, affirmed that Muslims produced and ate “insubstantial things” -fruit, vegetables, nuts, and dried fruit. These kinds of perishable crops cannot be store easily and thus cannot become the foundation of a typical feudal structure. Every socioeconomic system develops a particular way of exploiting natural resources.’ Christians and Muslims simply managed and interpreted the environment and its resources differently.

In Almeria, irrigated lands had been transformed intensively by human endeavour such as terraces, channels, and reservoirs. Surprisingly, the rest of the land, 90 percent of the territory, was used in a very extensive way for hunting, gathering, and grazing. There was an intensive agriculture linked to international markets through a key product: silk. This product represented between 25 and 50 percent of annual production value in most of the villages during the sixteenth century. Mulberry trees, which were the basis of silk production, were cultivated, preferably on irrigated land. The silk was sold in the Spanish and Italian markets.

The particular characteristics of nature management always reflect the main economic, political, and social features of a society. In this case, light demographic pressure and a special land-use system could explain, at least partly, the persistence of the rich forest ecosystems and fauna described above. Bears became extinct in England in the tenth century, wild boar in the thirteenth, and wolves in the fourteenth.27 Bears inhabited southeastern Spain until the seventeenth century, but the last reference we know is dated in 1809 in the Alpujarras, and wolves lived here until the beginning of the twentieth century. Ecological factors cannot sufficiently explain the differences.

Feudal lords who arrived in Almeria after the Castilian conquest introduced major changes in the land-use system. They leased uncultivated land to northern owners of huge flocks of sheep. About 150,ooo-zoo,ooo head came every winter to the warm plains of Almeria. Wool, intended for the Italian textile industry, became the second most common export of the province during the sixteenth century and played a very important role in the economy of the nobility. They were not interested in cultivating the waste land. Wool and silk were the basis of this particular sixteenth-century “market feudalism.”

Muslims were allowed to remain in the territory initially under the authority of Christian lords, but after the rebellion of 1568-70 they were expelled or brutally exterminated. A recent study proves that very little genetic relationship exists between people currently living in Almeria and in North Africa. After the Muslims’ expulsion, Almeria became an empty world and a dangerous frontier land because of the frequent raids of North African and Turkish pirates.

Christian Peasants Replace the Bears

Despite a program of repopulation undertaken by the government, only 20,00025,000 Christian peasants arrived in the province in the years following the Muslim expulsion. Around 1600 the population density was about 2.5 inhabitants per km=. Moreover, after 1620, a crisis in the Spanish and Italian economies brought about a collapse in the silk and wool markets.” The economy of the province could no longer be based exclusively on the export of these products.29 Peasants and lords began to focus on the underexploited waste land and there was a strong clash between them ensued over the use of uncultivated land.

The arrival of Christian settlers altered the relationships between nobility and peasantry. The power of feudal lords was reduced, and the richest settlers progressively gained control of uncultivated land. In fact, the social situation of peasants was better than in other Spanish regions because of the egalitarian characteristics of the governmental repopulation project and the existence of enormous amount of uncultivated land.” These factors attracted new immigrants, and the population soon increased quickly, rising more than 400 percent between 1600 and 1750 (see Table 1).31 It was then that the current Spanish place-names first appeared. Previous place-names had been mainly Arabic, Mozarabic, Latin, and Preroman. Spanish place-names involving animals and natural vegetation describe a surprising landscape in which forests and forest fauna still existed (see Figures 4 and 5)? There are more place-names referring to bears in southeastern Spain than in the whole of Britain.

At the same time, shrublands and forests began to be cleared and converted to dry farming. The ratio between the irrigated and dryland crop areas changed radically. The first increased about 40 percent between 157o and 175o, but the latter by approximately 24o percent (see Table 2).33 Irrigated fields were managed in a less intensive way, and despite their low yields and long fallow systems, dry farming crops became more and more important.

Despite these transitions, in 1750, the population of 124,ooo inhabitants, roughly 15 per km^sup 2^ was low, and the cultivated area represented only 16-17 percent of the province’s territory.34 The remainder was common land used for gathering, grazing, and hunting, as in previous periods. There was room for new expansion, but social and legal restrictions, including the collective rights of peasants on common lands and feudal rights, prevented it. In the second half of the eighteenth century, population growth slowed down.

The first forest inventories were carried out during this century. These documents show that there were still millions of trees in the mountains and in the northern territories of Almeria, although in the lowlands the forests appeared only as isolated patches among extensive fields and shrublands.335 References to big forest animals grew scarce. However, woodlands were reported in some of the most arid zones of the province until the early years of the nineteenth century, such as in the small Sierra de los Pinos (Pines Mountains), a place in which precipitation is less than 200 mm per year and where almost 70,000 trees were inventoried. Extraordinarily, this small forest has survived to the present day.3′ In the Cape of Gata, a desert landscape today, the botanist Sim6n de Rojas reported “many strawberry trees” in 1805.37

The Nineteenth Century

In the nineteenth century, the demographic situation changed dramatically. In Mo, there were 315,ooo inhabitants, creating a population density of 36 inhabitants per kn -riz, higher than in the rest of Andalusia and Spain. In fact, the increase took place over a very short period: between i82o and i86o, an annual growth rate of 1.4 percent spurred the growth. At about this time people began to realize that the environment was changing quickly, as we find in the Dictionary of Madoz (184550). Mi More than forty references are made in this work to the deforestation that was taking place in the province of Almeria: “Before the war of independence [1809-14] this village had more than zoo,ooo evergreen oaks .. but today there are only 1,ooo…. The Sierra de Filabres that had around 25 millions of trees is bare nowadays”(Bayarque, Sierra de Filabres); “The famous evergreen oak forest has been consumed in the lead and iron foundries…. There are only a few trees and scrubs” (Beires, Sierra Nevada); 11 even the olive trees have been used in the foundries” (Sierra de Almagrera). Forests were disappearing, the hydrologic balance was being altered, erosive processes accelerated, and floods were destructive. In short, the territory was falling into a dangerous situation of permanent environmental risk.

“The Terrible Axe of the Metal Worker”39

After 1820, in several mountains of the province a spectacular and sudden reactivation of mining took place. Almeria led the way in Spain’s mining sector during the nineteenth century. Lead mines, belonging to hundreds of small companies, flooded international markets and initiated the ruin of the German mines of Harz (see Table 3).

Until the 1840s, more than go percent of the Spanish lead production came from the Sierra de Gador in Almeria. Spanish lead managed to compete with British output for world leadership. It finally outstripped the British during the 1870s, when other Spanish districts became active. The development of mining became the catalyst of demographic growth in Almeria.4

In about 1830, 2o,ooo persons worked in the mines, the foundries, and the transport of minerals and metals in the Sierra de Gador. Only in this mountain between 1796 and 1860, 1.4 million tons of esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima) and 52,000 tons of charcoal were burned in lead foundries. More than half a million evergreen oaks (Quercus ilex) disappeared. An area of 28,ooo hectares lost its vegetation cover.41

After 1850, the small mining companies folded because of lack of fuel. In 1839, the director of mines of the Spanish government was amazed that in Almeria even the olive trees had fallen “under the terrible axe of the metalworker.”? Local metallurgy evolved into bigger factories and British technology, including English smelting furnaces and imported coal, was used intensively.

“Every strip of land is cultivated”43

Mining was not the only cause of environmental transformation. Madoz’s correspondents pointed out two other major causes: the increase of cultivated areas and the domestic use of firewood.

Because of the isolation of Almeria, with its lack of road and railway communications, economic and demographic growth was based on the natural resources of the province. Food and household fuel for were not imported. According to governmental statistics, about 7900, at least 25 percent and perhaps as much as 30 percent of the province’s total area was cultivated. The key ecological problem was that this enormous growth of dry farming crops took place on the steep slopes of the mountain ranges. Peasants and engineers were aware of the environmental consequences of this fact. The effects of torrential rains on slopes were disastrous: “two big storms on September 15 and 16 have completely destroyed a sixth of the irrigated fields and a fifth of the dry farming fields”; “most of these new fields should never have been cultivated … slope cultivation provokes floods and terrible accidents.”- Slopes were fully terraced. Presently abandoned terraces are the most spectacular element of mountainous landscapes in Almeria.

This agricultural growth was possible only because of the liberal revolution that eliminated the rights of peasants on common lands as well as feudal rights. Forests and pastures became private property and were cultivated. Nevertheless, the expansion of dry farming crops was insufficient to feed Almeria’s population. We have also detected an important spread of irrigated areas (see Table 4), based on traditional technologies and cereal crops. Cereal dominance lasted until 1960 (see Figure 6). But all this proved insufficient to sustain Almeria’s growth.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, demographic growth slowed down. Within the context of an organic economy based on the use of sunlight by plants the prospects for further economic and demographic growth were slim. In the first half of the twentieth century, after the peak of 380,ooo inhabitants reached around 1910, the population stagnated and the province even lost people even as Andalusia and Spain achieved their highest rates of demographic growth.

After 1960, a major economic transformation took place, and the population increased again (see Table 1). New irrigation technologies such as greenhouses, motor pumps, fossil fuels, and the total integration of the province into international markets made possible the development of a new kind of agriculture based on the exploitation of groundwater and on marketable crops.

The Man-Made Desert

At the Eighth Toyota Conference held in Mikkabi, Japan, in November 1994, D. L. Meadows made an attempt to define three criteria of sustainable, critical, and destructive development: population increase, economic development, and deforestation rate.45 We consider that in Almeria between 18oo and 192o almost all Meadows’s sustainability thresholds were exceeded.

Deforestation in the Mediterranean area has had disastrous consequences.4″ Soil erosion, perhaps the most destabilizing force for terrestrial ecosystems increases. The ecosystems may be forced back to a more primitive level of development with lower production and less control over its immediate environment.47 Ecosystems in southeastern Spain are continuously under a critical situation of water stress, which hampers their recovery after anthropic disturbances.

So many human disturbances in such a short period have led to extreme environmental alterations and to economic and demographic stagnation. By 1910, Almeria had become largely desert and one of the poorest provinces in Spain. People began emigrating. Other Mediterranean regions have experienced similar situations.48


The authors are grateful to John McNeill and two anonymous commentators for their assistance and comments, which helped to improve the manuscript. This paper is a contribution to the project PB96-1413-COz-or (Ministerio de Education y Ciencia).

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14. A. Beltran, “Las Minas Romanas de la Region de Cartagena seg6n los Datos de la Coleccion de su Museo,” Memorias de los Museos Arqueologicos Provinciales, 5 (1944).

15. Alfonso XI, Libro de la Monteria (Madrid: Editorial Casariego, 1970).

16. Don Juan Manuel, Libro de la caza (Madrid: Editorial Casariego, 199o); J. Munzer, Viaje por Espana yv Portugal, 1494 (Madrid: Edition de J.Garcia Mercadal, 1952); F. Andujar “Los montes de los Velez en el siglo XVI,” in Historic y medio ambiente en el territorio almeriense, ed. A. Sanchez Piton (Almeria: Universidad de Almeria, 1996); Archivo Historico Municipal de Vera. Libro iA, amo 1496; Simon de Rojas Clemente, Historic Natural del Reino de Granada (1804-1805), Archivo del Jardin Botanico de Madrid. Fondos de Simon de Rojas Clemente. Leg. (1,55,1), (1,53,1), (1,534), (1,54,1), (1,54,2), (1,54,3), (1,544), (1,55,1), (1,55,2); A. Lopez Guillen, Ilustracion v reformismo en la obra de Antonio Jose Navarro, cura de Velez Rubio y Abad de Baza (1739-1797) (Almeria: Instituto de Estudios almerienses, 1997).

17. Juan Garcia Latorre and Jestis Garcia Latorre, “The Last European Zebras in the Last Islamic Forest Frontier,” in Nature, Society and History: Long Term Dynamics of Social Metabolism, ed. Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Rolf-Peter Sieferle, and Eugene Rosa (Vienna: Conference hosted by the Department of Social Ecology of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Austrian Universities, 1999).

18. Jesus Garcia Latorre and Juan Garcia Latorre, “Efectos de la Sobreexplotacion de los Recursos Naturales en la Vegetation: los Madronales del Sureste Arido Espanol,” in V Jornadas de la Asociacion Espanola de Ecologia Terrestre (Cordoba: Area de Ecologia de la Universidad de Cordoba, 1997); Juan Garcia Latorre and Jes(1s Garcia Latorre, “Alcornocales en Zonas Aridas. El Uso de Informacion Historica al Servicio de la Ecologia” in XII Bienal de la Real Sociedad Espanola de Hisotira Natural (Madrid: Real Sociedad Espanola de Historic Natural, 1996); Juan Ruiz de la Torre and Luis Ceballos, Arboles y Arbustos de la Espana Peninsular (Madrid: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Escuela Superior de Ingenieros de Montes, 1979).

19. “Colonization may be defined as the complex of social activities that deliberately change important parameters of natural systems and actively maintain them in a state different from the conditions that would prevail in the absence of human interventions.” Marina Fischer-Kowalski and Helmut Haberl, “Tons, Joules, and Money: Modes of Production and Their Sustainability Problems,” Society & Natural Resources 10 (1997); M. Fischer– Kowalski and H. Haberl, “Stoffwechsel and Kolonisierung. Konzepte zur Beschreibung des Verhaltnisses von Gesellschaft and Natur,” in Gesellschaftlicher Stoffwechsel and Kolonisierung von Nahu (Amsterdam: G+B Verlag Fakultas, 1997).

20. J. F. Bergier, “L’Uomo e la floresta,” 11 Datini 14 (1994).

21. P. Guichard, Les musulmans de Valence et la reconquete (XI-XIII siecles) (Damas: Institut francais de Damas; 199o); P. Guichard, Estudios sobre historic medieval (Valencia: Editions Alfons el magnanim, 1987); The origin of some ideas that are further developed by Pierre Guichard is in Samir Amin’s book, Sobre el Desarrollo Desigual de las Formaciones sociales (Barcelona: Anagrama, 1976).

22. M. Barcelo, “El Diseno de Espacios Irrigados en Al-Andalus: un Enunciado de Principios,” in El Agua en Zonis Aridas. Primer Coloquio de Historic y Medio Fisico (Almeria: Instituto de Estudios Almerienses, 1989); M. Barcelo, Arqueologia medieval. En ]as afueras del medievalismo (Barcelona: Critica, 1988).

23. J. Munzer, Vic por Espana y Portugal (1494) (Madrid: J. Garcia Mercedal, 1952).

24. Juan Garcia Latorre, “La agricultura almeriense antes y despues de la expulsion de los moriscos,” Chronica Nova 25 (1998); This work is based largely on the Libros de apeo y Repartimiento and in the Catastro de Ensenada. Los Libros de Apeo y Repartimiento (which are to be found in the Archivo de la Real Chancilleria de Granada and in the towns that formed part of the ancient Kingdom of Granada), are records kept by each town after the expulsion of the Moors. They include the number of inhabitants, of houses, mills, ovens, the surface area covered by the different kinds of crops and the number of trees. They explain how the irrigation systems work and describe, one by one, the agricultural plots of land. They also include the names and place of origin of all the Christian settlers who arrived after the expulsion, together with the amount of land and other goods which eab one received. Detailed information can be found about these documents in M. Barrios Aguilera and M. Birriel Salcedo, La repoblacion del reino de Granada despises de la expulsion de los moriscos (Granada: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Granada, 1986).

25. M. Barcelo, “El diseno de espacios irrigados en Al-Andalus”; M. Barcelo, Arqueologia medieval. This has nothing to do with the Spanish community land grants whose origin is in the northern feudal territory.

26. M. Godelier, Economic institutions in people and culture. A survey of cultural anthropology (New York: J. F. Bergin Publishers, 1980); M. Gonzalez de Molina, Historic y medio ambiente (Madrid: Eudema, 1993); M. Fischer-Kowalski and H. Haberl,

“Stoffwechsel and Kolonisierung: ein universalhistorischer Bogen,” in Gesellscaiftlicher Stoffwechsel and Kolonisierung von Natur (Amsterdam: G+B Verlag Fakultas , 1997).

27. C. Aybes and D. 1`tW. Yalden, “Place-Name Evidence for the Former Distribution and Status of Wolves and Beavers in Britain,” Mammal Review 25, no. 4 (1995).

28. C. Cipolla, Historic Economicade la Europa Preindustrial (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1992).

29. A similar situation has been detected in the province of Murcia. M. T. Perez Picazo and G. Lemeunier, El Proceso de Modernizacion de la Region de Murcia (Murcia: Editora Regional, 1984).

30.The government handed over free of charge to the Christian peasants houses and lands which had belonged to the Muslims. Each peasant received a “suerte,” which is a plot of land and a house. Almost all the settlers received the same amount of land. The government of King Phillip II, for strategic and military reasons, was greatly interested in quickly repopulating the Kingdom of Granada. For this reason he assisted the peasants and even came into confrontation with the feudal lords.

31. For demographic changes in Spain and Almeria, see: J. Nadal, I’d, Poblacion Espanola Siglos XVI-AX(Barcelona: Ariel, 1966); A. Sanchez Piton, La Integration de la Economic Almeriense en el Mercado Mundial (1778-1936) (Almeria: Instituto de Estudios Almerienses, 1992); J. Garcia Latorre, “El Reino de Granada en el Siglo XVII. Repoblacion Campesina y Crecimiento Demografico,” in Hombre y ‘Territorio en el el Reino de Granada (1570-163o). Estudios sobre Repoblacion, ed. M. Barrios Aguilera and F. Andujar Castillo (Granada: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Granada, 1995).

32. Jesus Garcia Latorre and Juan Garcia Latorre, “El Bosque y el Agua en Zonas Aridas: los Recursos Naturales del Sureste Iberico en la Historic,” Paralelo 37 17 (1995/96); Juan Garcia Latorre and Jesus Garcia Latorre, “Historic Ecologica y Toponimia: Herramientas para la reconstruccion de los Paisajes,” in VJornadas de la Asociacion Espanola de Ecologia Terrestre (Cordoba: Area de Ecologia de la Universidad de Cordoba, 1997); Juan Garcia Latorre and Jesus Garcia Latorre, “De Osos, Lobos y Ciervos: Bioindicadores de Cambios Ambientales en la Historic Reciente,” in VJornadas de la Asociacion Espanola de Ecologia Terrestre (Cordoba: Area de Ecologia de la Universidad de Cordoba, 1997).

33. Libros de Apeo ‘v Repartimiento (1573); Catastro de Ensenada (1752); Grupo de Etudios de Historia Rural, Estadisticas historical de la production agraria espanola, 1860-1935 (Madrid: Ministerio de Agricultura,. 1991); Consejo Economico Sindical (1970) and Camara de Comercio (1994).

34. Garcia Latorre, “La agricultura almeriense antes y despues de la expulsion de los moriscos,” Chronica Norma 25 (1998). In this work all the information referring to the cultivated areas and to the population in the eighteenth century comes from the “Catastro de Ensenada.” This document is one of the most important historical sources of eighteenth-century Europe. It was written between 175o and 176o and was inspired by the ideas of the European Enlightenment. Its objective was to substitute an antiquated and unjust tax system for another based exclusively on the citizens’ wealth. In all the town and villages of the Crown of Castile a survey was carried out on the demographic and economic situation of the area, on the crop systems, the land yields, product prices, and the income of each individual. However, the greater part of the thousands of volumes which make tip the “Catastro de Ensenada” are concerned with describing one by one all the agricultural plots of the kingdom. The section which corresponds to the province of Almeria consists of 133 volumes, which are kept in the Provincial Archives in Almeria (Archivo Historico Provincial de Almeria).

35. Archivo General de Simancas, Legajo 572, Valladolid.

36. Juan Garcia Latorre and Jesus Garcia Latorre, “Los Bosques del Desierto Almeriense,” Quercus 128 (1996).

37. R. Sagredo, Flora de Almeria (Almeria: Diputacion de Almeria, 1987).

38. Pascual Madoz has gone down in Spanish history for two fundamental reasons: as the editor of a great encyclopedic dictionary of the Kingdom of Spain, published between 1845 and 1850; and as the Minister of Finance in a liberal government (1854-56) during which the so-called “disentailment of Madoz” was implemented, and which involved the privatization of the greater part of common and Town Hall lands. Madoz’s Dictionary is one of the most useful historical sources for studying the reality of Spain in the mid-nineteenth century. It comprises 16 volumes and is based on the reports of hundreds of corresondants who sent economic, demographic, social and geographic news of every town and village of the kingdom to Madoz from each province. Madoz’s Dictionary is an extraordinary mine of information on environmental themes.

39. J. Ezquerra del Bayo, “Datos sobre la estadistica minera de 1839,” Anales de Minas 3 (1841).

40.See M. A. Perez de Perceval, La mineria almeriense contemporanea (1800-1930) (Almeria: Z6jel, 1989); A. Sanchez Piton, La integration de la economia almeriense en el mercado mundial (1778-1936) (Almeria: Instituto de Estudios Almerienses, 1992).

41. A. Sanchez Pic6n, “La presion humana sobre el monte almeriense durante el siglo XIX,” in Historia y medio ambiente en el territorio almeriense, ed. A. Sanchez Piton (Almeria: Universidad de Almeria, 1996).

42. J. Ezquerra del Bayo, “Datos sobre la estadistica minera de 1839,” Anales de Minas 3 (1841).

43. P. Madoz, Diccionario geografico-estadistico-historico, 1845-1850 (Editoriales Andaluzas Unidas, 1988).

44.Quote from Town Council of Velefique, 1853. Report of the Agricultural Office in Almeria, 1891. Cited in J.I. Jimenez Blanco, La production agraria de Andalucia Oriental, 18741914 (Madrid: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad Complutense, 1986).

45. S. Murai, “Global Environment and Population Carrying Capacity” in Population, Land Management and Environmental Change, ed. J. I. Ditto and A. Ono (Japan: The United Nations University, 1996).

46. J. V. Thirgood, Man and the Mediterranean Forest: A History of Resource Depletion (San Francisco: Academic Press, 1981); Z. Naveh and A. S. Lieberman, Landscape Ecology. Theory and Application (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1994)

47. F. H. Bormann and G. E. Likens, Pattern and Process it a Forested Ecosystem (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1994).

48. John R. McNeill, The Mountains of the Mediterranean World: An Environmental History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

Juan Garcia Latorre is a historian specialized in economic and environmental issues related to the transition from the Islamic to the Western society in southern Spain. He is a member of the Association for Landscape Research in Arid Zones. Andres Sanchez Picon teaches economic history at the University of Almeria. His research is devoted to the nineteenth-century economy ofsouthern Spain, focusing especially on mining industries and their impact on the environment. Jesus Garca Latorre is a forester who specializes in landscape archaeology and the practical applications of ecological history to the management of semiarid ecosystems. He is a member of the Association for Landscape Research in Arid Zones.

Copyright Environmental History Jan 2001

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