Jordi Pietx, Serra del Cadí, Pyrenees, 2021. ©Jordi Pietx
Inspired by his experience with land stewardship and private conservation initiatives in the US, he pioneered the concept in Catalonia.
How did the Land Stewardship Network of Catalonia (XCT) start?
Jordi Pietx & Pere Garet, landowner. Checking the land stewardship contract conditions in the field. 2009. © Ashoka Foundation.
Jordi Pietx: “When in 2000, we discussed amongst conservationists the topic of Land Conservation and how it was working, people were amazed when we stated the fact that you can do conservation even if governments do not declare it as protected areas.
With land stewardship, we demonstrated that work and agreements to protect nature could be directly found with landowners, municipalities, volunteers, etc.”
How has the concept of Land Stewardship expanded at the national and European levels?
Caselles landhold, Collsacabra, Catalonia, site of a land stewardship agreement, Paisatges Vius land trust. 2013. © Jordi Pietx.
Jordi Pietx: “First, it was a lot of work. To be heard. To change the mentalities. Then, the ball got rolling. A few key landholder management professionals were involved, like legal experts and land registrars. They started to develop law proposals that led to legal recognition for land stewardship in Catalan and Spanish national law.
NGOs adapted the concept of Land Stewardship to marine areas, rivers, wetlands, etc., and the Land Stewardship concept extended to other parts of Spain. New regional networks started to emerge. Through a foundation, the Spanish government developed a learning platform on the topic.
In 2009 XCT and several partners from other countries and regions across Europe set the objective to reach Brussels.
The aim was to consolidate the concept of Land Stewardship at the European level. To involve the European Commission, including DG Environment and DG Agriculture.
And to let politicians and institutions know that the Land stewardship seed was expanding in Catalonia and Europe. Until today, Catalonia is at the forefront of private land conservation in the EU.
And in 2013, thanks to a LIFE project and Eurosite participation, XCT produced a manual.”
Ermita de St. Vicens d’Esclet, Girona, Catalonia. Site of one of the first municipal stewardship agreements for Mediterranean meadow conservation and restoration. 2005. © Maite Garrigós, Municipality of Cassà de la Selva.
What could be the last message you would like to share with the community?
We are at a critical moment for our planet, and conservation must continue. Restoration of ecosystems and healing the people in those ecosystems and landscapes is an essential element. I have spent most of my life networking to help nature, the environment and people. And I’m deeply convinced that this local to a global approach, connecting people, mixing groups and ideas, is the way to succeed.”