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Xarxa de Custòdia del Territori: A network for the land stewardship in Catalonia

What is the Xarxa de Custòdia del Territori?

The Xarxa de Custòdia del Territori –xct- (Land Stewardship Network in English) is a not-for-profit organization working to foster land stewardship as a conservation strategy for the natural, cultural and landscape resources and values of Catalonia and its environment.

Established in 2003, the xct is a second-level organization made up of over 150 associations, foundations, city councils, enterprises and persons working in the land stewardship network.

What do we understand by land stewardship?

Land stewardship is a strategy intending to generate accountability among the owners and users for the conservation and proper use of natural, cultural and landscape resources and values.

Land stewardship materializes in voluntary agreements between the owners and managers of land, and land stewardship entities in order to maintain and recover the natural environment and landscape. Land trusts are public or private not-for-profit organizations that take an active part in preserving land and its values through mechanisms making land stewardship easier.

What is the land in Catalonia like?

The landscape in Catalonia is the result of a long and ongoing process of transformation through human activity. Even the most natural landscapes have been modified by the cultures inhabiting them, even when humanization had never been so intense as over the passed 50 years. With the appearance of new uses, such as industrial uses, tourism and commercial uses, the more traditional uses have been replaced by these.

From the 32,000 Km² in Catalonia, 61% of the land is woods, 35% are crops and 4% are urban areas and roads.

The management and preservation of the land is directly linked to private property, since in Catalonia 80% of the land is in the hands of private owners. This makes it essential to involve owners and users in the conservation of our natural, cultural and landscape heritage.

Our strong points:

• Evolving right from the beginning: The xct was established at the International conference on land stewardship at the Montesquiu Castle in the year 2000.
• Diversity of members within the xct: The members (over 150) are very diverse and each and every one of them contributes their own views and cooperation to develop land stewardship.
• xct working groups: Made up by members who deal with specific issues. The first xct groups are those for marine stewardship, the stewardship of rivers and agricultural stewardship.
• Networking: The philosophy and methodology behind the xct generate benefits for each of its members and for the organization as a whole.
• Strengthening strategy: This is a permanent assessment and support programme to strengthen and improve the abilities of land trusts to undertake technical actions, management and financing.
• Involving citizens: We work in order to bring land stewardship closer to citizens. This is a key step for the future. For further information you may visit the website: Viulaterra.cat.

Our work at an international level

• Study trips and exchanges around the world: Land stewardship is a fairly recent movement. That is why we are interested in knowing how it is done in other countries so we all grow together.
• Co-organization of the workshop at the IUCN World Conference on Nature in Barcelona (2008): Professionals working in the field of land stewardship from 17 countries discussed the situation and the opportunities regarding land stewardship. The result of this meeting was the creation of the working group on land stewardship within the IUCN.
• Permanent cooperation with Latin America: We are in permanent contact with the main organizations and networks there.


 
• Working with European land stewardship networks: We cooperate with several land trusts in Europe to progress all together.

    

• Cooperation network for land stewardship in the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euro-region: We cooperate with other networks working for land stewardship (gestion conservatorie) in the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euro-region in order to share methodologies and strategies beyond political and administrative borders.

Legislative and administrative progress in Catalonia and Spain

The xct works in close cooperation with the Catalan government and the ‘Fundación Biodiversidad’ and the Ministry for the Rural and Marine Environments to establish a legal and fiscal framework that is favourable for land stewardship. With this:

In Catalonia:
• There are several laws that mention land stewardship, such as the law on landscapes, the law on contracts for crops, the Catalan civil code, the law regulating continental fishing, the law on fishing activities and maritime action, and the draft bill on biodiversity and the natural heritage.
• The Catalan Government and the xct have established a committee to develop land stewardship in Catalonia, involving seven ministries.

In Spain:

• Law 42/2007 on biodiversity and natural heritage includes land stewardship and sets the bases for future tax incentives.
• The ‘Land Stewardship Platform’ was created as an initiative of the ‘Fundación Biodiversidad’ for the promotion and development of land stewardship in the Spanish State.
• The ‘Land Stewardship Forum’ intends to promote land stewardship among Spanish institutions and social agents to foster the creation of networks and develop joint projects.