Originally from Hertfordshire, Leica Nature Ambassador, Luke Massey now lives in Asturias, Northern Spain, on an old cattle farm he’s named Wild Finca.
In this two-part blog wildlife photographer and filmmaker Luke, talks about the Wild Finca vision and the wildlife that calls it home.
II was born in St Albans, and from the minute I got my first camera aged 12, I’d head out on my bike and you would find me in a field somewhere photographing boxing hares, fox dens and golden plover flocks. Since then I’ve had the immense privilege to travel all over the world and document incredible sights, habitats and species through photography and film. But with the changing global climate, both in terms of climate change but also restrictions to travel with the pandemic, my travels have been curtailed somewhat. Just before covid struck my partner and I purchased a ten hectare farm in Asturias, Northern Spain. It has been a lifelong ambition of mine to be able to create a natural paradise for wildlife, but it was only 5 years ago whilst documenting the Iberian lynx, that I fell in love with Spain and knew that I wanted it to be here.
Southern Spain, Andalusia and Extremadura, were far to hot for me, so I decided to look in northern Spain with my partner Katie, and that’s when we fell in love with Asturias. Here we found our little slice of paradise, which we have named Wild Finca.
We are currently living through the sixth mass extinction. Species decline is huge, especially in Europe. We are losing catastrophic numbers of invertebrates, a study in Germany found there was more than a 75 percent decline over 27 years in the total flying insect biomass in protected areas. Although the study was only done in Germany, scientists are sure that that is probably the same trend across Europe, mainly due to habitat destruction and the use of pesticides in both agriculture, but also on a smaller scale of pesticide use in our own homes. Such catastrophic declines have knock on effects for all manner of wildlife, for example insectivorous birds such as the nightingale, common swift and swallow are declining due to not having enough food at their breeding and over-wintering sites, as well as on their mammoth migrations.
Wild Finca came about because we want to create a space that cannot only offer a home for a myriad of wildlife but also inspire people to do the same, with whatever space they have. We are hoping some of the techniques we are employing can be copied at any scale. For example we have bug hotels around the edge of our vegetable patch that could be put on a balcony, same with bird boxes. We are making beetle banks to act as wind breaks for our vegetable patch but also habitat for insects which in turn provide food for birds and mammals, reptiles and amphibians. All these little things we are doing, help wildlife on a small scale, and we know realistically Wild Finca isn’t going to save the world. It’s a 10 hectare project on a huge planet, but hopefully what we can do is to encourage mindsets to change and that is what drives us. We are already getting great feedback from people, we’ve had people get in contact asking how they can employ some of our actions on their own land, we’ve had people on a very small scale – one family have that awful astro-turf back garden and are looking to tear it up and replace it with a haven for nature instead. To a 500 acre farm in south east England!
That is the driving force behind Wild Finca. If our little patch can inspire people to create a mosaic of spaces for nature across Europe and further afield, then we are achieving what we have set out to do.
Our aim at Wild Finca is to inspire people, and what with coronavirus that has been a bit tricky, so we have been trying to do so virtually! Every month of 2021 we are creating a short film about all life here, and we’ve called the series ‘Notes from Wild Finca’.
You can watch it here:
With restrictions now easing for visitors, we are starting to put together some experiences so that people can visit Wild Finca.
Keep an eye on our website for more details about these experiences and sign up for the Wild Finca newsletter to keep up to date with all things Wild Finca here: https://www.wildfinca.com/ and you can follow us on Instagram @wildfinca.