Not many people have heard of them, but the Tamera community in the Alentejo has been diligently transforming a 330 acre swathe of formerly arid land into “a natural Edenic paradise on earth”, and has this week been featured in the UK’s Guardian newspaper as a answer to any area locked in a bleak cycle of drought and desertification.
As the paper explains: “Through simple practices of digging swales (ditches) and creating water retention spaces, Tamera’s ecology experts have transformed an area on the brink of desertification – and say they can do the same anywhere in the world”.
Tamera’s water wizards arrived in the mid-90s from Germany. In those days there were 30 of them. Today, the community has grown to 200 people and the results speak for themselves.
“The land undulates upwards into gentle hills, cradling nooks of fertile terraces growing sweetcorn, sunflowers and tomatoes, before rolling down into tranquil lakes”, writes the Guardian, adding that “20 years ago this land was arid and barren, and farming was a struggle”.
The Tamera case study has been presented to the EU and at the UN’s Cop22 in Marrakech earlier this year.
As Bernd Mueller, one of the powerhouses behind the project, told the Guardian, “the ecological knowledge is there. The problem lies in political strategies and social habits.”