Montes Negros’ Eden

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Los Monegros desert is an arid area close to my hometown, Zaragoza (in the northeast of Spain). My father’s family comes from a village located on its border; therefore, it became the landscape of my childhood. It is said that this territory was once covered by dense forests through which squirrels could cross the country from one end to the other. Nowadays, few spots of land are left with vegetation after the desertification caused by intensive agriculture and deforestation.



Classified as a demographic desert by UNESCO, it reached this state through human intervention and neglect. Climate-related data of the area predicts temperature rises of up to 8ºC by 2100 and consequences such as reduced river flows, extraneous rainfall and significant risk of forest fires.  

In the 90’s, to stop this eternal cycle, the scientific community highlighted the value of the area, home to more than 5,400 biological species. They claimed its protection in a manifesto addressed to local, national and European policymakers and signed by around 500 scientists and researchers from 35 countries. However, protection has not happened yet, and the turning point to preserve the value and beauty of the current Monegros landscape becomes imminent.  

In the meantime, 31.5% of Spanish territory is already affected by desertification. 80% of the country is at risk of becoming a desert within this century due to climate change. Over 75% of the Earth’s land area is already degraded, and 90% could become degraded by 2050.  

Defining the idea 

‘Montes Negros’ Eden’ unveils the environmental story of Los Monegros and its relation with local myth and folklore, as well as social and political aspects. It combines photographs, documents, archives and text based on scientific research, articles and studies, enhanced by local folk tales and the testimony of the residents of the area.  

Developing the project  

The project is the result of experimentation, witness research, collaboration with local museums, visual analysis and interpretation of the human intervention on the land. The many layers of the story link to the different photo formats and techniques of the images, including the use of orange filters to burn the digital image, black and white analogue photographs, overexposed colour film and scanned collected herbs and plants. 


Noemí is a photographer whose work focuses on environmental issues. Through her practice, she explores the limits between new documentary, conceptual photography, and fictional narratives combining research-based methods with experimental processes.  To see more of her work you can visit her Instagram.

To see more of Noemí Rodrigo Sabio’s work visit:
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