Private Land Conservation Ambassador

Jordi Pietx

Jordi Pietx, Serra del Cadí, Pyrenees, 2021.  ©Jordi Pietx 

Jordi Pietx is a biologist with an MSc in ecology and environmental sciences. He specialises in nature and landscape conservation and stewardship. He has also worked on environmental and participatory aspects of land planning, conservation, restoration and rural management.

Inspired by his experience with land stewardship and private conservation initiatives in the US, he pioneered the concept in Catalonia. 

In 2002, he started to develop the Land Stewardship Network of Catalonia (XCT) and worked for them as its director. Since 2019 Jordi has been an independent consultant on socio-environmental innovation and networking in Catalonia, Spain and at the EU level.

"To enhance Private Land Conservation, spreading knowledge, raising awareness on the topic and involving everyone is crucial. All the connections are essential." - Jordi Pietx

How did the Land Stewardship Network of Catalonia (XCT) start?

Signature Land Stewardship Agreement for the Estany del Coll (Coll’s Pond), Collsacabra, Catalonia, between the landowner and Paisatges Vius land trust. 2011. © Daniel Sierra
Jordi Pietx: “We tried to gather everyone with a shared interest in land conservation during the first Montesquiu seminar in 2000. For four days in Catalonia, day and night, we talked about stewardship. The topic was so important that we decided to have a « manifesto declaration ». This manifesto was a strong statement, a starting point to share with other organisations and make them join us. Eighty organisations of different types supported our Montesquiu declaration. The Land Stewardship Network of Catalonia (XCT) was born. The power of all our voices united helped us get funding and reach the Catalan government with our ideas and demands. This wasn’t an easy task in early 2000. The connection between civil society and government wasn’t as developed as today, but with the support of several key people, we managed to commit the government. They agreed to support us. And at my home town, the University of Vic offered us an office for the network. I have led XCT for 11 years now as its director. Today the office is, 20 years later, still there while its acronym has shifted recently to XCN.

Today, XCN comprises over 150 associations, foundations, city councils, enterprises and people working in the land stewardship network. Nowadays, the network connects 77 land trusts, holding 844 stewardship agreements and more than 500 participants in training events.

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.”

Conservation and conversation are two words we need to combine. Gathering people so they can have conversations on conservation is what makes land and nature stewardship grow so much.

Jordi Pietx

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.”  

LIFE ENPLC Team

The news items collected on this blog have been written by project partners of the LIFE ENPLC project.