Barbanza Ecosocial Lab is a project financed by the Banco Santander Foundation which has been promoted by the Fundación Rede de Innovación Arousa (RIA) in collaboration with the University of Santiago de Compostela through the Histagra group and with the support of the Cátedra Juana de Vega.

To get in contact with the partners of the project, please send an email to:

At Fundación Banco Santander we work to contribute to the construction of a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable society. With this objective, we develop initiatives grouped into three lines of action: the promotion of culture as a tool for understanding the world around us, social action to support the progress of vulnerable groups and care for the environment to protect natural heritage. In all our programs we strive to create networks of collaboration with the third sector to face the main global challenges together.

Since 2004, the Fundación Banco Santander has maintained a programme for the recovery of threatened species and degraded natural areas in cooperation with leading specialised institutions. During these years, areas particularly affected by human activity (mining, intensive livestock farming, fires, etc), which are the habitat of emblematic species of the Iberian fauna in a delicate state of conservation, have been restored. The imperial eagle, the brown bear, the bearded vulture, the black vulture and the hundred-year-old mountain olive trees are some of the species that have benefited from this work to protect natural heritage.

Within this line of work, the Barbanza Ecosocial Lab project, which we are funding, is framed with the intention of enabling the development of the following proposals:

  • To generate a laboratory of the territory that serves as a reference to exemplify sustainable practices.
  • To create a project that combines science and society, orienting it towards research in eco-agro-innovation.
  • To articulate and consolidate eco-agro-innovative proposals that respond to the bioregion in which the project is located, while starting from a whole set of knowledge, both historical and current, with which to propose more sustainable alternatives for the future.

Fundación Banco Santander is composed of Rodrigo Echenique Gordillo, Chairman, Borja Baselga Canthal, Managing Director and Álvaro Ganado, Head of Environment.

More info at Fundación Banco Santander website.

Fundación RIA is a private, non-profit, cultural entity with national and international public projection. Its main objective is to encourage, analyse, debate, promote, implement and disseminate the development and protection of local economies and architectural, urban, natural and cultural values of the Galician territory, trying to reconcile and enhance the efforts of people and public or private institutions related to those values, and where appropriate operate as an instrument of coordination of these actors.

Through the generation of strategic alliances with the Academy, the administrations and the private sector, Fundación RIA seeks the application of knowledge in reality, through the identification of conflicts and potentials, establishing pilot projects and case studies related to the natural environment, the built environment and the local economies.

The work that the foundation has been developing during the last 4 years in the area of the Ria de Arousa, has allowed it to reach a wide knowledge of its conditions and of the actors that live, work and study this territory. As the coordinating body of the project, the Fundación RIA is promoting the application of knowledge in a pilot project that seeks to conserve the environment and guarantee the provision of ecosystem services. At the same time, it promotes a sustainable and productive management of the territory by the communities, by strengthening the economies based on agriculture and fishing.

The board of trustees of the RIA Foundation is made up of Sir David Chipperfield, President; Carlos Seoane González, First Vice President and Benito Blanco Avellano, Second Vice President and Secretary. Manuel Rodríguez López is the General Coordinator of the technical team, formed by the architects Alfonso Bertrán Gil and Adrián Capelo Cruz.

More information on the Fundación RIA website.

The Universidade de Santiago de Compostela is a public institution of higher education and research with autonomy, full legal status and its own patrimony. It constitutes the campuses of Santiago de Compostela and Lugo. The research groups that form part of the Laboratorio Ecososocial do Barbanza are:
HISTAGRA (Agrarian History and Politics of the Rural World. 19th and 20th Centuries) is a Research Group of the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela (USC), composed of 25 members and directed by the Professor of the Department of Contemporary History, Lourenzo Fernández Prieto. Since 2006 HISTAGRA is a Competitive Reference Group (CRG) recognised by the Xunta de Galicia (Galician Regional Government), a condition that has been successively renewed in 2010, 2013 and 2017. HISTAGRA coordinates the ReVOLTA Network of Agroecology and History. Among other projects, it has promoted the Common Hand Studies Program, thanks to the support of the prestigious Daniel & Nina Carasso Foundation, as well as extensive research projects.

HISTAGRA assumes the scientific direction of the Laboratorio Ecosocial do Barbanza and has the support of the GESPIC group, Group of Studies on Business and Sector History. Fishing, Industry and Commerce, which is part of the Department of Applied Economics. Among its members is David Soto, an expert professor in the history of agro-ecosystems, who, together with Manuel Gonzalez de Molina, is the author of the book “History of Spanish agriculture from a biophysical perspective, 1900-2010”.

The participation of the HISTAGRA research group in the design and execution of a project such as this is the manifestation of the conception that science is not neutral, it opens up questions and commits to reality. The background of research in theses, articles and books has shown how Galicia was a territory managed under very intensive organic practices until the thirties of last century.

More information on the HISTAGRA group website.

Since 2005, the Juana de Vega Foundation has participated in the Juana de Vega Chair together with the Faculty of Geography and History of the University of Santiago de Compostela to promote knowledge of the life and work of Mrs. Juana de Vega as well as her historical context.

On 22 December 2005, an agreement was signed with the University of Santiago de Compostela for the creation of the Juana de Vega Chair within the Department of Contemporary and American History of the Faculty of Geography and History of the University.

The objective of this Chair is to promote debate, reflection, research and development of activities that lead to studies and research projects, as well as training and dissemination of work related to the following subjects:

  • The presence of enlightened and liberal thought in contemporary Galicia, paying attention to the contribution of women and specifically to the life and work of Mrs. Juana de Vega.
  • The initiatives and modernizing processes of the Galician countryside since the 19th century.

Since 2014, the Chair has been directed by Lourenzo Fernández Prieto.

The Barbanza Ecosocial Lab has a body of experts, linked to the university, who will monitor the progress of the project in each of its phases and contribute their knowledge to the preparation of reports with recommendations to improve its development. The Advisory Board will be composed of:

  • David Soto Fernández
    Soto got his PhD at the University of Santiago de Compostela with a thesis titled ‘Transformaciones productivas en la agricultura gallega contemporánea’. In the field of Environmental History, he has published many works on different subjects, such as the evolution of agricultural macro-magnitudes and productive and technological changes, studies on the replacement of fertility, erosion in historical perspective, social metabolism or the transformation of food consumption in Spain.

  • Maria Loureiro García
    Loureiro took a degree in Economics at Santiago de Compostela University (USC) and did an MA and a PhD at Washington State University (USA). She is currently a Professor at the Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis at the University of Santiago de Compostela. Her field of specialization is environmental and natural resource economics. She is a member of the research group ECO-IURIS of the USC, listed within competitive reference groups of the Xunta de Galicia.

  • Xavier Simón Fernández
    Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Vigo and researcher. Doctor in Economics from the University of Vigo, Simón is responsible for the Research Group in Ecological Economics and Agro-ecology at the same University. His areas of work are: the analysis of alternative systems of food consumption and production; social metabolism and biophysical indicators of sustainability; intangible heritage and rural development; renewable energies and rural development.

  • Mar Pérez Fra
    Professor at the Department of Applied Economy of the University of Santiago de Compostela, Area of Economy, Sociology and Agricultural Policy. Her lines of research are related to the processes of agrarian change and to the evaluation and design of rural development policies.

  • Emilio Carral Vilariño
    Professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela. Carral’s areas of research include agro-industrial waste, pollution, heavy metals, nutrients, environmental control, bio-indication, ecology, protected species, environmental management and biodiversity. Among his works, it is worth mentioning ‘O pequeno é grande: A agricultura familiar como alternativa: O caso galego’.