It is important to learn about and properly manage forests in order to adapt them to a changing climate and guarantee their future.

Today, Catalan forests are expanding. Because of the gradual abandonment of lumbering, which is not as profitable as it used to be in the past, forests have encroached on former crop fields and covered fields that were used as pastureland until recently. This entails the appearance of continuous forest stands which are barely cared for and generate a high fuel load.

Furthermore, in recent times, these forests have become prized spaces of leisure activities accessible to everyone. Therefore, it is important to know about and properly manage the forests to prevent potential disasters and make the most of them.

Forest preserves

forest preserves

These are mature forest stands whose characteristics are therefore very different from younger or intensively-managed forests. The goal is to conserve and guarantee the survival of these mature forests and their assets.

The Foundation manages several forest preserves around Catalonia, from the Pyrenees to Els Ports.

Old forests in the Pyrenees

In the Pyrenees, specifically in the Pallars Sobirà region, some forests have not been felled for over 100 years. In order to guarantee the survival of these “old forests”, the Foundation has gradually created 25 forest preserves. Each of the preserves, which total 141.8 hectares divided among the townships of Alins, Esterri de Cardós, Farrera, Llavorsí and Vall de Cardós, have a different stipulated timeframe, ranging from 20 to 40 years.

They are old sub-Alpine forests of Scots pine, mountain pine and fir trees which have scarcely or never exploited for lumber, where monumental specimens up to 300 years old (!) can be found. They are also the habitat of threatened and scarce species such as the wood grouse, the boreal owl and the black woodpecker, and many of these shelters where they live are part of the Alt Pirineu Nature Park.

Beech in Fontanils

At Vall d’en Bas, the Foundation manages part of the Fontanils estate, specifically 132 hectares of it. This estate is the home to a 4,5 hectare forest preserve meant to conserve old forest and allow it to evolve naturally.

The fact that lumber has not been extracted from it for almost two centuries means that today Fontanils boasts a diversity and ecological functioning quite similar to a mature forest with hardly any changes stemming from human use.

Forest preserves of LIFE Pinassa

Technical forest management and improvement plans

Forest repopulation

repopulation

This is an important part of forest management since it contributes to protecting the soil, diversifying habitats, preventing fires, regenerating lost forest, etc.

River walk from Món Sant Benet to Navarcles

On the banks of the Llobregat River, there is an 800-metre route where the nearby residents often stroll and spend their free time. Part of this path has been repopulated with trees (poplars, willows, elms and downy oak) and shrubs (elderberry, dogwood, laurustinus and barberry), creating a riverine forest which enhances the biodiversity in the area. With this action, which enlisted the participation of almost 300 people, around 400 specimens of these tree species were replanted.

Forest management to increase the carbon stock

tavertet

The Foundation has conducted a study estimating the carbon fixation capacity of the forests within its spaces to demonstrate their role as carbon reservoirs.
Every year, almost 16,000 tonnes of CO2 are fixed, equalling 2 tonnes per hectare (a figure equivalent to 239,000 airplane trips from Barcelona to Madrid). Seven of the spaces concentrate 99% of this absorption. Alinyà Mountain is the most important space, accounting for 79% of the total.
 

Forest management to prevent fires

cow and montserrat

Forest management fosters extensive livestock husbandry in woodlands with a high risk of fire, taking advantage of the animals’ feeding to naturally manage the landscape and eliminate excess understory, thus lowering the risk of fire.
Different initiatives like the Guardabosc project (with the Món Rural Foundation) and the European Life Montserrat project in the Montserrat - Coll de Can Maçana Nature Space are successful examples of this tool.