A landscape across mountains.
El Grau de L’Inquisidor © Herència Altés

El Grau de L’Inquisidor

In 2017, the Trust launched a five-year Environmental Improvement Programme on the site of an organic winery in Barcelona, Spain. The project, El Grau de L’Inquisidor, will make a substantial contribution to wildlife conservation and education in the area.

This particular area of the Mediterranean offers unique insight into an ancient landscape, the product of thousands of years of interaction between humans and the environment stretching back as far as 8000 BC. Low intensity management of this cultural landscape has supported a range of now characteristic wildlife. But in recent years, this landscape has become fragmented through intensive agriculture, land abandonment and unsustainable development. In fact, habitat fragmentation is now the main driver of wildlife decline in Europe. 

The sensitive management of an organic vineyard allows enhancement and re-creation of the characteristic semi-natural cultural landscape of this part of the Mediterranean: a landscape of low intensity agricultural crops, aromatic scrub (garrigue and maquis), dry grassland and forest patches. By undertaking some specific interventions, such as the creation of nesting places and a pond, wildlife populations can be further enhanced. This in turn will provide a biodiverse landscape that sustains soils and reduces the need for pest control.

The visitor facilities in the winery itself will also provide a great opportunity to promote wildlife to visitors – both at the visitor centre and through walking tours around the surrounding landscape.

A landscape of people working the land.
© Herència Altés

Part restoration, part advocacy, this is an ambitious long-term project that will unfold over several years. 

The plans for El Grau de L’Inquisidor are focused around the following six objectives:

  • Improve the natural environment – primarily through habitat management and creation with some specialist interventions for particular species.
  • Improve the landscape – maintain woodland areas, landscape the road, recreate grassland areas and look after the stone walls.
  • Implement sustainability measures – in relation to the winery around organic waste and water treatment.
  • Provide education for visitors – at the visitor centre and through the provision of a well-interpreted self-guided trail.
  • Launch an apprenticeship programme – take on three local trainees as part of the implementation programme.
  • Design and support a mapping and survey programme – undertake a habitat survey, baseline ecological survey, fixed point photography and on-going monitoring.
A landscape of a building in the El Grau district.
© Herència Altés
Image shows a bird on a tree branch.
© Herència Altés
Olive tree.
© Rob Stoneman
A landscape of trees in the El Grau area.
© Rob Stoneman