First visit of the external monitoring team to the LIFE Bears with Future. May 2022https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/visita-castanos.jpg1299769Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/visita-castanos.jpg
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 Brown Bear Foundation, the Natural Heritage Foundation of Castilla y León and the Biodiversity Foundation. 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 Government of 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.
Technical conferences on project advances and exchange of LIFE experiences. May 2022https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Caboalles-networking.jpg786407Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Caboalles-networking.jpg
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.
First chestnut grafting treatment. May 2022https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/realizando-injerto-corona-castano-abril22.jpg17441202Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/realizando-injerto-corona-castano-abril22.jpg
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 Brown Bear Foundation 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.
First meeting of the scientific committee of the project. March 2022.https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/reunion-comite-cientifico_mar22_BAJA.jpg1000596Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/reunion-comite-cientifico_mar22_BAJA.jpg
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.
Progress in the preparation of the chestnut plants at the La Mata Forest Nursery in the Principality of Asturias. February 2022https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Reunion-con-mascarillas_baja.jpg800600Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Reunion-con-mascarillas_baja.jpg
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.
Identification and genetic characterization of ancient chestnut trees to obtain plant material of local varieties. December 2021https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/castano-Belmonte-2-baja.jpg800520Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/castano-Belmonte-2-baja.jpg
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.
Participation in the AMYBEAR international conference “Bear-human coexistence”. November 2021https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/logo-amybear.jpg10801079Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/logo-amybear.jpg
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.
Networking and exchange of experiences before the arrival of the bear in Portugal. October 2021https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Networking-Portugal.png1225950Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Networking-Portugal.png
On October 28 and 29, 2021, the networking event «What if the brown bear returns?» (www.ursopardo.pt) has been celebrated in Bragança (Portugal) with a meeting and exchange of experiences whose main objective has been to anticipate one of the great challenges of nature conservation in Portugal: the potential return of the brown bear to the north of the country and its coexistence with people. The event has been organized by the environmental NGO Palombar – Conservation of nature and rural heritage, together with the Association for the Study and Protection of the Donkey (AEPGA), the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF), the Municipality of Bragança (MB) and the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança (IPB), and with the support of the European Commission “Natura 2000 biogeographic process” initiative.
The ‘LIFE Bears with Future’ project team has participated in the event, presenting the project’s objectives and approaches as an example to improve the bear’s habitat, contribute to its adaptation to climate change scenarios and promote coexistence with people in bear areas. In addition, Fernando Ballesteros, LIFE project coordinator, has given the presentation «Habitat management, conservation of dispersal corridors and improvement of connectivity conditions – A perspective from coexistence», collecting experiences acquired and lessons learned in the development of LIFE projects for the conservation of the Cantabrian brown bear and the expansion of its area of distribution.
The meeting has served as the first contact to advance in the conservation of the species and in the preparation of its future arrival in the north of Portugal, and joint lines of work have been proposed with the Portuguese organizations to transfer knowledge and experiences that are acquired in the ‘LIFE Bears with a Future’ project.
LIFE project coordinator, Fernando Ballesteros, during the networking event
LIFE Bears with Future at the Naturcyl Ecotourism Fair. September 2021https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/LIFE-OSOS-CON-FUTURO_Naturcyl-baja.jpeg700480Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/LIFE-OSOS-CON-FUTURO_Naturcyl-baja.jpeg
Between September 24 and 26, the fourth edition of the Castilla y León International Ecotourism Fair, NATURCYL, was held in the town of Ruesga, in the Montaña Palentina. The Brown Bear Foundation (FOP) has participated in the fair offering information to visitors about the ‘LIFE Bears with Future’ project. At the FOP stand, visitors have been able to learn about the actions aimed at improving the availability of food for bears through the planting of native wild fruit trees and the forest treatment of oak and chestnut groves, with the aim of helping the adaptability of the brown bear to climate change in the Cantabrian Mountains.
The Fair, which has had 85 exhibitors from all over the national territory, has been visited by 10,500 people, attracted by the exhibitions and activities related to the enjoyment of nature and the outdoors, in a wide spectrum of possibilities, such as rural tourism, wildlife observation, nature photography, hiking, mountains, astrotourism, routes, rural life, etc.
The ‘LIFE Bears with Future’ project is coordinated by the Brown Bear Foundation and has as beneficiaries associated the Biodiversity Foundation (Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge) and the Natural Heritage Foundation (Junta de Castilla y León). The regional administrations of the Junta de Castilla y León and the Principality of Asturias collaborate in the project, and Fundación Tierra Pura and the Principality of Asturias also contributes to the co-financing.
Visitors to Naturcyl Fair listen to explanations about the ‘LIFE Bears with Future’ project.
First collection campaign of Alder Buckthorn seeds. September 2021https://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/recogida-arraclan1.jpg1149843Fundación Oso PardoFundación Oso Pardohttps://fundacionosopardo.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/recogida-arraclan1.jpg
The Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) is a deciduous shrub or tree that produces fleshy fruits that are highly valued by the brown bear and other frugivorous species. It generally appears in riparian forests, fresh hedges, birch forests, borders and oak forest clearings and rocky areas on neutral or acidic soils. It has a great capacity for regeneration, very fast growth and good productivity, making it a very interesting species in the enrichment small forest plantation model proposed in the ‘LIFE Bears with Future’ project.
In September 2021, the LIFE project field team held several days to collect fruits of this species in areas of the municipality of Cabrillanes (León) and the councils of Ibias and Degaña (Asturias), avoiding access to the most visited by bears at the same time. A total of 11 kg of fruit has been collected. Although it is not a species regulated by Royal Decree 289/2003 on the commercialization of forest reproductive materials, suitable stands have been selected within the project’s area of action and the fruits have been adequately labeled and transferred to the Central Forest Nursery of the Junta de Castilla y León, where the seeds will be cleaned and prepared for plant production.
This autumn there has been a very low and irregularly distributed production of Common Whitebeam fruit (Sorbus aria), another species of interest in the project. The different official seed sources established for this species have been evaluated, detecting a great shortage of fruit. Years with low production also tend to give rise to seeds with low viability and low germination rates, which is why it has finally been decided not to collect Common Whitebeam fruits and wait for a year with high fruit production.
Field technician of the ‘LIFE Bears with Future’ project collecting Alder Buckthorn seeds (Frangula alnus)
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