The story

Around 140,000 seeds have been sown in El Cortijico using drone technology

In October, AlVelAl carried out a new phase of its Plan for the Restoration of Natural Areas in the Public Heritage Mount of the Andalusian Government, El Cortijico, in Chirivel. This consisted sowing 140,000 seeds of Pinus Nigra via drone.

The release of seeds is geolocated, allowing for the germination to be monitored and this pilot for landscape restoration can be properly assessed. Landscape restoration which, as Fernando Bautista, technical director of AlVelAl’s Natural Areas, points out, “Unlike planting, with this action we will not see the tree, but as the years go by we will be able to see plants with a greater guarantee of survival”. As Bautista indicates, this method allows “plants to invest all the energy accumulated in the seed in producing roots with a high capacity for deepening”.

From the experience of participating collaborators Dronecoria, Spadrone and Reverd, we estimate that there will be a minimum survival rate of 10 percent. Which means we can expect 15,000 new trees in the next 20 years.

To this end, 20,000 seeds have been sown per hectare. Each seed is wrapped and pelleted to improve germination on the surface and the process is carried out by a specially designed dispenser.

Previous actions

The Cortijico is an enclave at an altitude of over 1,600 metres, which forms part of the Sierra María-Los Vélez Natural Park; it is known for being home to La Sabina Milenaria, an albar juniper (Juniperus thurifera), an iconic tree of Andalusia.

El Cortijico is an area where AlVelAl is already active. During last autumn-winter a biodiversity sowing took place consisting of 9,976 Juniper seeds near La Sabina Milenaria with clay cakes, humus, hydrogel and coconut fibre; to increase the probability of germination of these junpier species which is very low.

There were also 1,140 seeds of Pinus Nigra by sowed manually, with 4 seeds per hole planted with clay to protect them and humus and hydrogel to improve absorption and conservation of humidity the first 4 years. Around 10.000 seeds of Pinus Nigra were thrown across the surface imitating sowing via drone in order to better understand the germination the behavior of the seeds before the latest drone sowing action.

In the same way, a total of 27,000 acorns collected in the area by the students taking part in  the Agroforestry course led by IES José Marín de Vélez Rubio were sown, pre-germinated and protected with clay and other material to prevent animals eating the acorns.

Planting objectives

The aim of the actions in El Cortijico, Bautista explains, “is not to generate a closed forest canopy, but a mosaic that increases biodiversity and imitates areas of scrubland that can be seen in this high mountain area. As well as generating patches of juniper that help to pollinate the iconic Sabina Milenaria”.

Revegetation El Cortijico with plants that produce acorns and berries, provides a source of food for numerous birds and insects, enriching the present animal community which today has very significant species such as kestrels, peregrine falcons and golden eagles.

The planting actions are intended to continue into the next season of 2020-21 with the planting of 26,200 new trees, 200 of which will be planting with cocoons to provide a shady place and enhance the survival of the native deciduous trees.

Joining forces

Over the last two years, AlVelAl’s Plan for the Restoration of Natural Areas has enjoyed the collaboration of Ecosia, the Andalusian Regional Government’s Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, the Sierra María-Los Vélez Natural Park and Commonland. Tree-Nation also collaborated in the latest planting action.


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Around 140,000 seeds of Pinus Negra have been sown on El Cortijico

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Dronecoria and Spadrone provided their expertise to lift this planting action off the ground

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