The Plastic Mosaic You Can See From Space: Spain’s Greenhouse Complex
The world’s largest plastic greenhouse complex–known as Mar de Plástico–covers more than 185 square miles near Almeria in Spain’s southeast. Photographer Bernhard Lang shot these sprawling scenes as part of his “Aerial Views” project.
Mar de Plástico has been an area of intensive crop production since the 1960s. Exports of fruits and vegetables in 2012 amounted to 1.9 billion euros with 359 companies exporting from the complex. Almost 30 percent of Mar de Plastico’s production is exported to Germany, followed by France; the rest is sold in Spain itself.
The first plastic greenhouse was built here in 1963, and to kick-start the development, Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Colonización drilled deep wells and installed pumps to supply water to the fields and distributed land plots to so-called colonizers in the early 1960s. This started intensive farming in the area.
Since 2010, Munich-based photographer Bernhard Lang has been working on “Aerial Views,” a project that aims to show the impact of human beings on their environment as seen from the air.
A report published by the regional government of Almeria in 2005 said the rapid expansion of greenhouses was causing damage to the water table, over-extraction of sand for plant bedding, and a pileup of agricultural waste.