Gathering wild

What is the smell of a tucked-away cove on Norfeu Cape? And of the mountain of La Albera, which was scarred by fire just a year ago? The response is almost always found in the plant life. Yet plants do not behave in the same way in their natural habitats, charged as they are with diversity, as they do in cultivation. That is why we go out and gather them where they are.

We understand that gathering wild plants for the production of aromatic captures of the landscape, while never reaching industrial levels, could give cause to a few doubts. In any case, we asked all these questions when we began to think of this project. Can it be done without harming the ecosystem? Can a plant’s development be affected by it? In what way could it end up altering the landscape? For us it was essential to have some answers before we began.

Through IAEDEN (Institució Altempordanesa per a l’Estudi i Defensa de la Natura [Upper Empordà Institute for the Study and Defence of Nature]) / Salvem l’Empordà [Save Empordà] we came into contact with Sandra Saura Mas, an environmental biologist with close ties to the region due to her collaborative work at the Parque Natural de la Albera, the Parque Natural del Cabo de Creus and the Parque Natural del Montgrí.

Together we have worked to design a protocol for sustainable gathering, exclusive to BRAVANARIZ, which is customised to each species. This is because not one way of doing things can be used in all cases. In some situations, it is better to select individual plants and pick them whole; in others, it is better to cut the flowering tops. Some plants need to keep some of their flowers to ensure preproduction and the survival of the insects pollinating them. The same system cannot be applied to low-lying brush or a holm-oak grove in the mountains.

In Spring 2016 we did a series of samplings in the areas previously chosen for our gathering tasks. Our samplings have given us highly valuable information, both for their density and for the quality and state of the main species that BRAVANARIZ uses in its formulas: rosemary, thyme, Montpellier cistus, grey-leaved cistus, Spanish lavender, Aleppo pine, fennel, juniper and cypress.

After carrying out this study we were convinced of the viability of the project, completely respecting environmental balance, and we also felt it would be possible to favour it in certain cases, helping certain species to thrive while halting the invasive effects of others.

For BRAVANARIZ, strict observation of this protocol is a fundamental priority we do not abandon at any stage. Quite beyond our sampling and study, we continue to monitor the areas we habitually gather from in a controlled way, evaluating the effect of our actions to thus be able to react consequently. In sum, we are talking about preserving the landscape, a landscape that is ours.