Joan Rovira, expert in livestock trails: "What would become of us if there were no trails?"
The expert in cattle routes, Joan Rovira, accompanied the shepherd Daniel Giraldo in his transhumance from Margalef to l'Hospitalet de l'Infant. The Daily He spoke with him so that he could explain to us the importance of these paths in the landscape and environmental conservation of our surroundings.
I'm going to cut to the chase. I had understood that in a transhumance the cattle look for the high areas of the mountain, and not precisely the sea...
Certain. Normally the roads go along the bottom of the valleys or through the mountain ranges, but in this case the cattle trail passed along the seashore. Here, between the sand of the beach and the harvestable area, a saline vegetation is born that is very rich for livestock. In addition, small lakes formed by fresh and salt water are formed, which goes very well to balance the diet of cattle.
And where is this road to l'Hospitalet?
It is a part of the road that connected the mountains of Teruel with the fairs of Santa Coloma de Queralt and Barcelona. The Hospitalet de l'Infant section is about 4 or 5 kilometers that join Cabo de Término with Bosquet de Llastres, in Miami Platja.
This means that years ago a lot of cattle passed through here...
A lot, especially in the area of Vandellòs and Rasquera. What was most abundant was the white goat.
And this cattle was moved to the fairs that you mentioned?
Yes. The livestock road was a transversal route that was used to take the protein from the meat to the fairs. Until the cooling machines existed, getting live cattle to the slaughterhouse was the only guarantee that the meat arrived fresh at its destination.
Then the roads fell into disuse and disappeared?
The roads were lost at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, with the arrival of the railway. But today they are of great importance because they are part of our historical and cultural heritage. What would our civilization have been like without them? How would the cities have fed and developed?
And when and how were they born?
Transhumance itself was born about 3,000 years ago, in the Neolithic, the era in which man began to socialize with animals. In the Mediterranean, in the summer heat, animals had little grass, so they migrated to the mountains, where the winter snow had melted and fresh grass had grown. In winter these animals retreated to the south due to the cold of the mountains. In this way, throughout the year they searched for eternal spring and created cattle paths.
Up to how many?
ugh! There are thousands and thousands of kilometers. Only in Spain it is estimated that there are around 120,000 distributed. To give you an idea, in Tivissa there are about 100. Apart from this, there are thousands of hectares of roads that nobody claims.