LIFE MIDMACC: introduction and recovery of vineyards in mountain areas as a strategy for environmental and socio-economic adaptation

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LIFE MIDMACC: introduction and recovery of vineyards in mountain areas as a strategy for environmental and socio-economic adaptation
Thematic sectors: 
Geographic characterisation - Biogeographic region: 
Project duration: 
Adaptation initiative typology: 
Green or based on ecosystem services
Type of climate impact: 
Forest and land degradation

Description of the case study

The project, has developed and implemented 3 specific adaptation strategies in 3 strategic areas in the south of the Pyrenees, north of the Iberian Peninsula, through innovative landscape management techniques.

Recovery of pastures affected by the phenomenon of scrubland, through clearing and the introduction of extensive livestock farming

In the case of vineyards, the strategy applied consisted of introducing regenerative agricultural practices both in vineyards in Catalonia (DO Empordá and Llívia) and La Rioja (Tudelilla and Clavijo).

The different agronomic management practices tested in vineyards (different ground covers, terraced or sloping, trellis or goblet) with different implantation times (in active vineyards, newly planted and recovery vineyards) have shed light on key elements of this strategy for adapting to climate change in mid-mountain areas.

Challenges : 

Southern European mountain areas are highly sensitive to climate change. In Mediterranean mid-mountain areas, available water resources have progressively decreased in recent decades due to climate change. In particular, longer and more severe droughts, combined with more frequent and more intense heat waves, are increasing the vulnerability of these areas to forest fires and the phenomenon of deforestation. In addition, the progressive abandonment of traditional land uses due to the lack of generational replacement is leading to a widespread loss of mosaic landscapes, more resilient to climatic extremes.

Objectives : 

The objective pursued is the recovery and/or introduction of vineyards in mid-mountain areas as a viable socio-economic alternative (product with high added value) and resilient to climate change.

Solutions : 

On a landscape scale, the recovery of terraces and the introduction of new vineyards has led to an improvement in the mosaic landscape, increasing the diversity of habitats and consequently reducing the risk of forest fires. In addition to this improvement in the ecological resilience of the intervened areas, to which the vineyards confer a high natural value, it is worth mentioning the potential of obtaining a high added-value product such as vines in these mid-mountain areas.

At plot level, the introduction of conservative soil management techniques with plant cover is associated with a considerable increase in the organic matter content of the soil and micronutrients directly assimilated by the plants. In turn, this technique also confers greater microbial diversity to the plant-soil system, resulting in better nutrient exchange, greater water retention, lower levels of soil erosion and, ultimately, increased productivity. 

On the other hand, adult vines on terraces have higher levels of organic carbon and nitrogen than in plantations on slopes, as well as less soil loss due to water erosion.

Finally, it should be noted that in pilot trials of newly planted vineyards using conservative management techniques in areas where there was previously scrub or grassland, microbial diversity appears to improve substantially.

In 2022, one of the experimental plots of the MIDMACC project succeeded in stopping the flames of a spreading forest fire. The mosaic landscape achieved and maintained through regenerative and conservation practices contributed substantially to reducing the impact of the flames, demonstrating the importance of such landscapes in addressing climate challenges. 

Watch the video here.

Importance and relevance of the adaptation : 

Case mainly developed and implemented as a measure of adaptation to climate change in the Pyrenean mid-mountain.

Key words : 
Vineyard Soil conservation management Vegetation cover High added value Fire risk Drought risk
Region and / or city: 
Countries involved: 
Geographical governance level : 
Organisations involved : 

University of La Rioja, IRTA, University of Zaragoza, Bodegas Espelt, Bodegas Vivanco, Bodegas San Prudencio.

Additional Information

Stakeholder participation : 

This experimental pilot action has been possible thanks to the collaboration of the Vivanco (Tudelilla) and San Prudencio (Clavijo) wineries, both located in La Rioja, and Bodegas Espelt (Cap de Creus).

Success and limiting factors : 

Success: High added value production, possibility of pooling costs through cooperatives, lower costs due to conservative soil management and generation of quality labelling (shared mountain brand, "climate-proof" labelling, etc.).

Constraints: location and geographical location can increase the costs of treatments (mainly distance and slope).

Cost-benefit analysis : 

Regarding the socio-economic analysis, the first element to highlight is the cost reduction of using soil conservation management techniques with cover compared to conventional soil management (without vegetation cover).

See MIDMACC deliverable no. 21 for more information. 

There are no substantial economic differences between the two systems studied (trellised and bush vines). The altitude of the vines, on the other hand, does entail higher implementation and maintenance costs.

However, cooperative systems between farmers (pooling certain costs and coordinating certain activities) contribute considerably to reducing vineyard management and establishment costs. In this sense, the creation of a shared brand for mountain wines or the creation of mountain cooperatives are effective measures to reduce costs and increase income. 

 See MIDMAC deliverable no. 10 for more information.

Legal aspects : 

The LIFE MIDMACC project has been developed in the framework of the LIFE climate change adaptation programme, in the 2018 call.

Implementation period : 







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