- Laura Alvarez, Technical Coordinator
The semi-arid southeast of Spain faces many natural, social, and economic challenges. Rural depopulation and a shifting climate is creating a difficult situation for the local community. The AlVelAl foundation and its community of Socios (partners) work to resist these forces. As a partner of the search engine Ecosia - their first in Europe - the project has significant ambitions, as well as global scrutiny of its activities and impact.
In order to reach their vision of 1 million hectares supported, the AlVelAl team has to engage a large, diverse community of stakeholders. Their list of participating Socios extends from remote, rural landowners and businesses, to online marketplaces, corporate purchasers, government institutions and public interest groups.
The process of maintaining relations itself creates information / time management challenges. In the early stages of the project, administrative needs were met by off-the-shelf software such as desktop GIS, website designers, spreadsheets and messaging tools.
Unfortunately, proprietary systems and high-cost licenses restricted community access and contributions. These limitations made it harder to collaborate effectively, increased pressure on critical team members, and undermined motivation to expand.
The AlVelAl team realized use of poorly integrated information systems was causing the effort - and cost - to support landscape activities to be prohibitive. It was also creating risk of miscommunications, wasted time, or missed opportunities. A need for innovation was clear.
At the beginning of the adoption process, the primary reason given was to improve communication with project members and across the internal team. Following deployment, the impact and value of high-quality data and management tools has become obvious.
The first step in the implementation process was knowledge sharing, followed by data consolidation and quality improvement. As the system entered operation, user experiences were monitored and further optimizations made. Specific functionalities include:
Following its digital transformation, the AlVelAl community has grown more productive and able to focus on member satisfaction and community engagement. This supports larger project ambitions, community growth, and increased potential impact. The vision of 1 million hectares supported is closer in reach.
The system has started adding value back to its community - helping save time and improve communications in areas that caused friction in the past. It is now positioned to accelerate the ambitions of community members, while the robust but flexible capabilities ensure long-term continuity and availability of data.
If changes are needed, it is possible to adapt and continue supporting project needs. As the quality of data and functionality continues to improve, opportunities for Socio members of AlVelAl Landscape Network are expected to grow.