Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Organic ornithology?

First organic rice planted in Riet Vell, Ebro Delta…

Ebro Delta, Spain, 21 May 2003 ? The Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO - the BirdLife International Partner in Spain) has today started planted its first certified crop of organic rice at its Riet Vell nature reserve in the Ebro Delta in Catalonia, Spain.Today is a landmark for this project. This is the first rice we have planted that will be certified as organic in our own property, said Carles Iba?ez from Riet Vell S.A., the company created by SEO/BirdLife to promote organic farming in important bird areas. We have been growing rice here for two years but the land must be managed organically for a third year before the produce can receive organic certification. Rice cultivation has a key ecological and economic role in important wetland areas throughout Europe whereas the existence of non-flooded cultivations can have negative impacts on nature conservation. This project started as a LIFE project, financed by the European Commission to promote ecological agriculture and improve economic benefits in the region. The whole of the Ebro Delta is an Important Bird Area (IBA) and includes sites that are protected as part of the Natura 2000 network. The area is especially important for Audouin`s Gull Larus audouinii, Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus rubber and Glossy Ibis Plegardis falcinellus, among other species.Already demand for the organic rice grown here is greater than supply, said Ignasi Ripoll from SEO/BirdLife. Recently Riet Vell S.A. received a request for 250 tonnes of rice from a German buyer which we were unable to fulfil because the next crop had already been sold through advance orders in Spain.This year`s rice crop was planted in 45 hectares of flooded rice fields which are part of SEO/BirdLife`s Riet Vell nature reserve and which the Catalan Government has included in the Special Protection Area (SPA) of the Ebro Delta. Most agricultural land in the Ebro Delta has been used to grow rice since the 19th century, although most rice cultivation uses chemical pesticides and fertilisers which damage the environment and harm wildlife.The goal of the project is to promote organic agriculture that provides benefits for local farmers as well as the environment, especially the Delta`s special birds. It is the most beneficial alternative in economic and environmental terms and has a huge potential as a future alternative in wetland areas for rice cultivation. It is hoped that the project will therefore act as a model of sustainable cultivation for local rice growers.Current production is 300 tonnes per year, all of which is currently sold in Spain, though contacts for marketing the rice in other countries (UK, Netherlands, Germany) are also being made. The income of the company helps pay for the three full time and one half time members of staff that work on the project.There are also plans to open a visitor`s centre and birdwatching hides at the reserve in 2004 to help promote conservation to school children and encourage eco-tourism in the area.This project is also a contribution to BirdLife`s European Agriculture Campaign which promotes the better integration of environmental considerations into the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).Contact Carles Iba?ez, Director of Riet Vell S.A (deltaebro@seo.org) or Ignasi Ripoll (iripoll@seo.org) at Tel/Fax +34 977702308. The Riet Vell website is at: www.seo/org/rietvell

4th July 2014