Dry stone walling in Andalucia in Axarquia
These dry stone walling, balates, are part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
The dry stone walling, called balates in Axarquia, were recognized in 2017 by UNESCO as belonging to the intangible cultural heritage of humanity .
In Axarquia, you will see them almost everywhere as soon as you travel among the white villages of the interior.
Over the centuries, these dry stone walling have shaped the landscape, along with terraced crops. There were no other options for cultivating the surrounding mountain sides. This was first the case with vineyards, then with fields of almond and olive trees.
This is also the reason why you will not see tractors. The tools are like centuries ago: human hand, donkeys, mules, and horses.
The trend was towards the disappearance of these balates , but the local administration is starting to showcase this incredible heritage. Especially since it is the most sustainable way to maintain an agriculture respectful of the environment and the populations.
There is a whole ecosystem of plants and animals around the balates . Some passionate men invest a lot locally. I want to quote Mr. José Antonio Pretel, in the form of a tribute to the work he does.
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