Aerial image Espiritu Santo area, dehesa Salamanca Region, Castilla y León, Spain

Conservation setting

The Iberian Peninsula, with some of the earliest human settlements in Europe, is also home to some of the most ancient natural landscapes of the continent. One typical example is the Spanish “Dehesas” or the Portuguese “Montados”, traditional wood pastures with their origins reaching back to, at least, the middle ages. The savannah-like appearance shaped by large grazers – especially cattle – is today home to some of the rarest animal species of Europe, such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle and the globally endangered Iberian lynx. These species have, together with their favourite prey, the European rabbit, decreased alarmingly in numbers during the last century and just only recently begun to come back slowly. In addition, these areas are famous for their ham – Jamon Iberico and Jamon Serrano in Spain – produced from pigs feeding on acorns from the Holm Oaks of the Dehesa.