LIFE Bears with future

Second cherry seed collection campaign. July 2022.

Second cherry seed collection campaign. July 2022. 2000 1335 Fundación Oso Pardo

In the month of July 2022, the different Official Seed Sources declared for the collection of cherry (Prunus avium) seeds in León and Asturias were visited to assess the quantity and condition of the fruit produced this season. Unlike the previous year 2021, in which 140 kg of cherries were collected from different Seed Sources in the province of León, this year 2022 has seen low fruit production in many areas of León, linked to late spring frosts that damaged flowering, and yet the existence of a good harvest has been confirmed in some areas of south western Asturias.

For this reason, on July 5 and 6, 2022, the LIFE field team, with the collaboration of the bear patrols of the Fundación Oso Pardo in Asturias, collected 52kg of cherry fruits from trees in the Official Seed Source FS/95/04/33/003, in Taladrid, in the Asturian municipality of Ibias, and on July 13 another 26 kg of cherry fruits were collected in the Official Seed Source FS/95/04/33/001 in San Martín de Eiros, in the Asturian municipality of Cangas del Narcea. The works have been carried out under the supervision of the Seed Sources responsible of the Principado de Asturias (SERPA Services Society) and with the corresponding authorization from the Forestry Service.

The fruits have been transferred to the Central Forest Nursery of the Junta de Castilla y León, where the seeds will be cleaned and prepared for plant production. The cherry tree is a regulated species, so only specimens from seeds collected in forest stands declared as Seed Sources can be planted and all the seed collected must be certified by the corresponding administration, to guarantee the suitability of the origin and the traceability of the plant production process. At a later date, attempts will be made to complete the collection and at the end of summer other seeds of interest will be collected, such as buckthorn (Frangula alnus) or whitebeam (Sorbus aria).

In addition, this summer samples of ripe cherries are being collected from different trees located in bear areas and that have been visited by the bear in this or previous seasons for a nutritional content study that will be carried out in collaboration with the Food Technology Department of the University of Vigo.

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The advice for visiting the mountains of the brown bear, in a cartoon video. June 2022

The advice for visiting the mountains of the brown bear, in a cartoon video. June 2022 2560 1440 Fundación Oso Pardo

The project LIFE Bears with Future launches a new cartoon video presenting usefull advice to visit bear mountains that can be helpfull to improve safety of both bears and visitors. It is part of the information campaign of the project, which develops different conservation actions for the Cantabrian bear under the current and foreseen climate change scenarios.

The aim of the video is to contribute to the compatibility between recreational activities in natural areas and the presence of bears in a context such as the current one, in which both these activities and the bear population are increasing. The LIFE project highlights the importance of expanding information actions also during the winter. The rise in winter temperatures in the mountains due to climate change will predictably affect bear hibernation, shortening it or even making bears not to hibernate at all, wich means there will be more active bears in the mountains.

The video also addresses the recommendations on how to act when encountering a bear, even if a bluff charge or a very exceptional attack occurs. It should be stressed that in Europe bears avoid contact with people, and they usually detect us well in advance, discreetly moving away from the place without the person realizing it in most cases. However, in case of a fortuitous encounter, one should never react aggressively or shout, or try to approach the bear because this actions could be identify as a threat.

The cartoon format of the story and its style aimed at all audiences seek to disseminate the messages. As the recommendations are similar in most of the European bear populations, an English translation of the video has been made to facilitate its use in other areas and agreements are being established to make versions in other languages. The animation video has been carried out by The Glow Animation Studio, recognized, among other awards, with the European Film Award and a Goya from the Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences of Spain. The original idea and the script have been conceived by the FOP.

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Technical networking and exchange visit with the LIFE Lynxconnect project. May 2022

Technical networking and exchange visit with the LIFE Lynxconnect project. May 2022 1300 501 Fundación Oso Pardo

As part of the networking actions and exchange of experiences between LIFE projects, in May 2022 two teams of technicians and managers of the Andalusian Government in the LIFE Lynxconnect project have made two visits to the Cantabrian Mountains to learn about the experiences carried out in the framework of the LIFE “Bears with Future” project and different aspects of the management and conservation of the brown bear.

The visits of the LIFE Lynxconnect teams took place from May 3 to 6 and 16 to 19, visiting different work areas in Laciana (León) and the natural parks of Somiedo and Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña and Ibias (Asturias) accompanied by Fundación Oso Pardo technicians and field patrols. In addition to field trips and sharing experiences on the ground, several debate meetings and project presentations have been held in collaboration with the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León (May 6 at the Casa del Parque de Babia y Luna in Riolago and May 17 at the Capercaillie Center in Caboalles de Arriba) and exchange of ideas on carnivore damage management in collaboration with the General Directorate of the Natural Environment and Rural Planning of the Principado de Asturias (May 4 and May 19, at the Visitors Centre of the Somiedo Natural Park). Environmental and technical agents from the Principado de Asturias and the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León, researchers from the Joint Institute for Biodiversity Research (CSIC-Oviedo University-Principado de Asturias) and the Fundación Cesefor and visiting agents from the Cos de Banders corps of the Government of Andorra. In addition to the LIFE Lynxconnect and LIFE Bears with Future projects, aspects of interest from the LIFE Safe Crossing, LIFE SoriaForestAdapt and H2020 Superb projects have been presented and discussed.

The visits have made it possible to exchange ideas and practices related to the conservation of these species and their habitats, conflict management and the resolution of the new challenges generated by the recovery of the Iberian lynx and brown bear populations.

 

Teams of the LIFE Bears with Future project beneficiaries and technicians from the Andalusian Government in the LIFE Lynxconnect project in a field day in the Cantabrian Mountains.19

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First visit of the external monitoring team to the LIFE Bears with Future. May 2022

First visit of the external monitoring team to the LIFE Bears with Future. May 2022 1299 769 Fundación Oso Pardo

On May 16 and 17, 2022, the first visit to the project was carried out by the representative of the external monitoring team (NEEMO) of the LIFE projects, with the participation of the project teams of the Fundación Oso Pardo, the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León and the Fundación Biodiversidad. Some of the main actions carried out to date have been reviewed, visiting the production of chestnut seedlings in the La Mata forest nursery, dependent on the Principado de Asturias, the chestnut grafting treatment area in the Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña and Ibias Natural Park (Asturias) and several areas planned for the planting of chestnut and fleshy fruits forests in the municipality of Páramo del Sil (León). The visit has been completed with online meetings for the presentation of technical and financial information on the progress of the project.

 

Visit with the external monitoring team to the La Mata forest nursery where chastnut seedlings are been produced for the project.

Visit with the external monitoring team to one of the old chestnut trees that has been genetically verified as a source of plant material for grafting.

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Technical conferences on project advances and exchange of LIFE experiences. May 2022

Technical conferences on project advances and exchange of LIFE experiences. May 2022 786 407 Fundación Oso Pardo

Taking advantage of the visits by technical teams from the LIFE Lynxconnect project and other contacts established with other projects, in May 2022 two technical conferences were held to exchange experiences, which were also used to update the progress made in the LIFE Bears with Future project by the different beneficiary partners.

On May 6, a conference was held at the Babia-Luna Natural Park House in Riolago (León). Fernando Ballesteros and Luis Fernández, from the Fundación Oso Pardo, presented the strategic vision and progress of the LIFE Bears with Future project. Eduardo Álvarez, from the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León, presented the actions of the Foundation in the project. Rocío Gallego, from the CESEFOR Foundation, explained the LIFE Soria ForestAdapt project and the H2020 SUPERB project «Systemic solutions for the expansion of the urgent restoration of ecosystems for biodiversity and ecosystem services related to forests». And Marcos López, from the Environment Agency of the Junta de Andalucía, presented the objectives and actions of the projects LIFE Lynxconnect “Creating a genetically and demographically functional metapopulation of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus)” and LIFE SAFE CROSSING “A new international project for preventing large carnivore road mortality in Europe”.

On May 17, a second technical conference was held at the Capercaillie Centre in Caboalles de Arriba (León). Fernando Ballesteros, from the Fundación Oso pardo, presented the LIFE Bears with Future project and the proposals for the bear’s adaptation to climate change. Víctor Gutiérrez and Carmen Berrio, from the Fundación Biodiversidad, explained the communication and awareness strategies that are included in the project. Eduardo Álvarez and Víctor González, from the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León, outlined the actions of the Foundation in the project, and in particular the proposal for pilot interventions in forest formations. And Javier Salcedo, from the Junta de Andalucía and coordinator of the LIFE Lynxconnect project, presented the progress of this project. The day ended with a visit to one of the pilot forestry intervention areas in Caboalles de Arriba and to an area where chestnut and fleshy fruit forest will be planted in Anllares de Sil (León).

Technical conference for the exchange of experiences held at the Capercaillie Centre in Caboalles de Arriba (León) on May 17 2022.

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First chestnut grafting treatment. May 2022

First chestnut grafting treatment. May 2022 1744 1202 Fundación Oso Pardo

In April and early May 2022, the field team of the LIFE “Bears with Future” project carried out the first forest treatment in chestnut forests corresponding to action C3 of the project.

This first action has been carried out on a forest plot owned by the Fundación Oso Pardo in an area with a high presence of bears and close to critical areas for the species in Cangas del Narcea (Asturias), which was planted with chestnut trees more than 20 years ago and has not received any further treatment. A previous scientific supervision has been carried out by the University of Oviedo advisory team, including a visit by the project’s Scientific Committee and a technical planning and the marking of the trees to intervene.

The elimination of competing trees has been limited exclusively to those that affected the growth and fruiting of the chestnut trees to be grafted, respecting in any case all the trees that produce fleshy fruits and nuts such as cherry trees, rowans, oaks or hazelnuts. The chestnut trees with the greatest potential for performing crown grafts have been selected, sawing the trunk horizontally at a height of 1.5 m and inserting 3 or 4 spikes with 2-3 buds each. Vegetative material has been collected from nearby ancient chestnut trees belonging to the «Parede» variety identified by genetic analysis. An important part of the chestnut trees has been kept ungrafted to favour pollination.

During the development of the treatment, a punctual presence of lesions compatible with canker disease (Cryphonectria parasitica) was detected in a few trees and in general without affecting their viability. All the work has been carried out applying strict precautionary measures against phytosanitary risks, basically consisting of the disinfection of all the tools by spraying bleach diluted 50% in water, sealing all the cuts made with suitable mastic and removing the main wood remains outside the plot.

Marking of the trees selected for grafting.

 

Pedro Álvarez, from Oviedo University, and Luis Fernández, from Fundación Oso Pardo, performing a crown graft on a chestnut tree.

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First meeting of the scientific committee of the project. March 2022.

First meeting of the scientific committee of the project. March 2022. 1000 596 Fundación Oso Pardo

On March 2 and 3, the first meeting of the Scientific Committee of the LIFE Bears with Future project was held in Villablino (León). The researchers and experts participating in the meeting have been Pedro Álvarez Álvarez and José Carlos Pérez Girón from the University of Oviedo, Emilio R. Díaz Varela and María J. Lombardero from the University of Santiago de Compostela, Fernando Castedo Dorado from the University of León, José Vicente López Bao from the Biodiversity Research Institute (CSIC/UO/PA) and Javier Cano from the Fundación Tierra Pura, in addition to the technical team from the Fundación Oso Pardo.

During the meeting, the main results of the preparatory actions of the project were presented and debated, and field visits were made to areas planned for fleshy fruit plantations and chestnut plantations in Anllares del Sil (Páramo del Sil, León), and areas planned for chestnut treatments in Gedrez (Cangas del Narcea, Asturias), where the action proposals have been reviewed and suggestions and recommendations have been collected from the experts.

Up-to-date scientific information and researchers’ advice is considered a key aspect in the design, execution and monitoring of the LIFE Bears with Future actions, taking into account that the objective is to facilitate adaptation to climate change considering the forecasts of future climate scenarios, and that the project is working with species with very specific requirements and phytosanitary conditions. In addition to a regular dialogue with the specialists of the Scientific Committee, future meetings and field visits will be developed in order to evaluate the result of the interventions and the necessary adaptations to guarantee their success and long-term maintenance.

Scientific Committee of the LIFE Bears with Future project.

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Progress in the preparation of the chestnut plants at the La Mata Forest Nursery in the Principality of Asturias. February 2022

Progress in the preparation of the chestnut plants at the La Mata Forest Nursery in the Principality of Asturias. February 2022 800 600 Fundación Oso Pardo

The work team of the La Mata Forest Nursery (Grado, Asturias), dependent on the Principality of Asturias, has recently finished sowing the chestnuts collected last autumn in various Asturian official seed sources for the production of chestnut plants for the LIFE Bears with Future project. An important effort has been made and more than 60,000 chestnuts have been planted in 500 cm3 forest pots, and these first days of February the new seedlings have already begun to sprout. The plants will be cared for in the nursery in the next months. The LIFE Bears with Future project will plant 25,000 chestnut trees for the production of fruit, most of which will be grafted with local varieties typical of each territory. The Regional Ministry of Rural Environment and Territory of the Principality of Asturias contributes to the project with the production of 15,000 chestnut trees in the La Mata Forest Nursery, which will be obtained from the chestnuts planted this season.

The forestry engineer from the Fundación Oso Pardo María Gómez (left), the researcher from the University of Oviedo Pedro Álvarez (centre) and the manager of the La Mata forest nursery Eloy Ron (right) in the greenhouse where the trays planted with chestnuts for the LIFE Bears with Future project are maintained and cared.

On February 9, 2022, a work meeting was held at the nursery to review the progress of chestnut production and plan the actions to be carried out this year, with the participation of Eloy Ron, technical manager of the nursery, Pedro Álvarez, professor at the University of Oviedo, Fernando Ballesteros and María Gómez from the Fundación Oso Pardo and Jairo Marqués, from Tragsatec and responsible for coordinating the participation of the Principality of Asturias in the LIFE project. At the meeting, the characterization of old chestnut trees for the selection of identified varieties adequate as grafting material sources and the corresponding administrative requirements were also presented and discussed. In the autumn of 2022, part of the chestnut trees will be planted in different Natura 2000 sites within the brown bear distribution area in Asturias, once the corresponding land stewardship agreements have been established with the interested public or private owners. Subsequently, these chestnut trees will be grafted directly in the field by the LIFE project team with the selected and identified local varieties that are most interesting and suitable for the plantation areas.

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Identification and genetic characterization of ancient chestnut trees to obtain plant material of local varieties. December 2021

Identification and genetic characterization of ancient chestnut trees to obtain plant material of local varieties. December 2021 800 520 Fundación Oso Pardo

The LIFE Bears with Future project is going to plant 25,000 chestnut trees in bear areas in the Cantabrian Mountains to improve fruit production for the bear and biodiversity in general, contributing to the promotion of the chestnut tree and related socioeconomic development. Most of the trees to be planted will be grafted with local varieties, selecting those with greater interest due to their fruit production, phenology, resistance to diseases or climate change, and establishing in the plantations an adequate combination of different varieties and wild ungrafted chestnuts to ensure good pollination.

Old specimen of chestnut tree in Belmonte de Miranda (Asturias).

To collect plant material for grafting with all the guarantees of origin and identification, a selection, characterization and genetic analysis of ancient chestnut trees in the project area has been carried out. The team from the University of Oviedo led by Pedro Álvarez has located and genetically characterized 62 centenarian chestnut trees in protected natural spaces and Natura 2000 sites in the municipalities of Grado, Proaza, Quirós, Teverga, Lena, Belmonte, Somiedo, Ibias and Cangas, after meeting and talking with tree or land owners and collect the information that is still preserved about them. Chesnut trees of the Parede, Chamberga, Galliciana, Naveixa, Palaciana, Panchina, Pelona and Vaqueira varieties have been genetically identified, but in addition 30 trees have presented genetic results that are not compatible with registered varieties and that in many cases can correspond to lost varieties currently unknown, which may be recovered thanks to these works. Given the enormous interest of these results, characterization work will continue and the possibility of applying cultural care to the most degraded trees will be analyzed to guarantee their conservation.

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Participation in the AMYBEAR international conference “Bear-human coexistence”. November 2021

Participation in the AMYBEAR international conference “Bear-human coexistence”. November 2021 1080 1079 Fundación Oso Pardo

On November 15 and 16, 2021, the final conference of the LIFE Amybear project “Improving Human-Bear Coexistence Conditions in the Municipality of Amyntaio” was held, combining a meeting in Amyntaio (Greece) and the online participation of specialists from other European projects. The conference has been organized by LEVER Development Consultants SA, coordinating entity of the project, together with the specialized NGO “CALLISTO” and the administrations of Epirus-West Macedonia and the municipality of Amyntaio (Greece).

The objectives and proposals of the LIFE Bears with Future project were presented at the meeting, along with other projects recently developed by the Brown Bear Foundation, and the project coordinator has participated in a specific session on proposals and solutions to prevent conflicts between humans and bears addressing the forecasts of greater conflict in the face of the effects of climate change and the solutions proposed in the LIFE Bears with Future project.

 More information:

https://conference.lifeamybear.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/LIFE-AMYBEAR-CONFERENCE-Human-%E2%80%93-Bear-Coexistence_final.pdf

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