Solution provided by Tamera, Portugal
Humus and topsoil can absorb a large amount of water and release it slowly. In this way floods and droughts are prevented. But erosion has widely degraded both humus and topsoil in the landscape. In order to restore the water cycle, we need to enable rainwater to be absorbed by the earth even without the topsoil layer.
Water Retention Landscapes are systems for the restoration of the full water cycle by retaining the water in the areas where the rain falls. There are plenty of ways to hold the rainwater on the land and they can be used in various combinations. For example, the creation of retention areas, from ‘check dams’, ‘swales’, terraces, deep plowing along the ‘keylines’, or by land stewardship such as reforestation, organic farming, and grazing management. The aim of this work is that no rain or waste water will run off from the area anymore. Then we will have transformed a landscape into a ‘retention landscape’. All outflowing water should then be spring water.
Tamera, an ecovillage of 154 ha, is located in the most arid region of Portugal (Alentejo). The whole region has shown significant trends of increasing erosion and desertification. Since 2007, Tamera has managed to counteract these trends through the creation of a ‘Water Retention Landscape’ (WRL), comprised of a system of lakes and of other retention systems, and including other structures such as terraces, swales and rotational grazing ponds. This approach to water management has created a regenerative basis for an autonomous water supply, the regeneration of topsoil, forest, pasture and food production, and greater diversity of wild species.
Bernd Walter Müller and Thomas Lüdert, coworkers of Tamera, have learnt from Sepp Holzer and others and become experts and consultants for regional landowners, governments and aid organisations in crisis areas.