Men and women in Islam have made full use of every drop of fresh water. Pressured by the scarcity of water resources and supported by a quasi-mystical consciousness of its transformative power to shape landscape, the equation water-human beings has carved out the landscape. Palm groves, oasis and gardens, drylands transformed into orchards are their most visible heritage. It is also a knowledge which is beginning to disappear from the people’s memories.

Today, as we see how the agricultural world is industrialised, water is becoming a knowledge that is beginning to vanish from our memory. In the context of rural depopulation, the young generations grown in an urban environment are unaware of the traditional management of water, and the risk of losing thousands of years of traditional knowledge is becoming very real.

The last generation inheriting those secrets is about to disappear in Spain. They are the bridge between the past and this present without memories in which we live in, they have the need of respecting all drops of water, and probably the key for the future.

Land and irrigation systems management

The Project Wise Voices aims at recovering the traditional knowledge of the use of the land and the irrigation systems management, the agro-ecosystems and the popular culture, raising awareness on values, knowledge and practices respectful with the environment and the natural and cultural heritage. The first phase has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, and has been developed in some of the Spanish regions with a strong Islamic tradition, in which the traditional land management has led to the transformation of the landscape and to a unique way of life adapted to water scarcity.

The traditional agricultural practices, the irrigation canal systems and the popular knowledge of those regions have been gathered with a clear objective: keeping the memory alive. Wise Voices has travelled through the landscape sculpted by the water and has entered into the memory of the last heirs of the knowledge of the earth, to find out about its secrets, learn from them and spread the knowledge.

It is expected to reproduce this initiative in other Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Malta or the South of Italy).