Monday, March 15, 2010

Grazing over a Big Topic

In the 3 countries, Spain, Portugal and Morocco, that I just visited it was evident that their wild landscapes are being regularly grazed by flocks of sheep and goats. At first, I was moved by the sound of the lambs frequent bleating for their mothers and the mothers' (or fathers') deep-toned answers. It was a strangely musical background to my groups' search for flowers.
Herding animals has gone on since time immemorial.They eat the green stuff and we eat them. Only now we wish they would be more selective about what they eat: not delicate narcissi or rare orchids!Not the alpines in our own western states! But when we put animals into feedlots away from precious plants,we run into new problems.
I have no solutions. Maybe if there were a growing industry of plant tourism farmers would make some changes.
The thing about plant/flower tourism is that the local people, especially the children, need to know that it's not the plucked flower that we're after. It's heart-wrenching to turn one's back on a child holding a colorful bouquet. Our tour leader told of a field of rare orchids having been picked by children for their bouquets.
The good thing is that all 3 countries had national parks or preserves which we visited. They know they have wonderful landscapes to preserve. We must help them however we can to succeed.

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