LIFE Bears with future

Collection of field data for the climate change vulnerability analysis of fruit plant species important for the bear. August 2021

Collection of field data for the climate change vulnerability analysis of fruit plant species important for the bear. August 2021 1600 1256 Fundación Oso Pardo

Since the beginning of the project ‘LIFE Bears with Future’, but especially since spring 2021, the project’s field team has been collecting data on the species of trees and shrubs that produce fleshy fruits of most interest for the brown bear. The objective has been to collect enough field information to carry out a climate change vulnerability analysis of the native tree species that produce fruits of high bear interest. The area of distribution of the Cantabrian brown bear has been surveyed through field trips in which plants of the different species have been located and georeferenced, separated at least 200 m from each other to allow data independence and representativeness, collecting information on their location, the presence of other nearby plants and the use by the brown bear. The areas most visited by bears have been especially surveyed according to the previous experience of the Brown Bear Foundation field patrols. In total, more than 1,500 locations of plants have been collected (725 Prunus avium, 352 Sorbus aria, 172 Rhamnus alpina, 146 Arbutus unedo, 114 Frangula alnus), most of them visited by the bears.

With these data, models of the potential distribution of the species are being carried out to establish relationships between different environmental and climatic variables and the available presence data. The work is being carried out by the team of Professor Ángel Felicísimo, from the University of Extremadura, with whom a technical assistance contract has been established. The models will be applied to the current and future scenarios, using the climate change cartography developed by the Kraken Group of the University of Extremadura for, at least, the A2 and B2 scenarios of the CGCM2 global model. The results will show the ideal areas for the implantation of each species under climate change scenarios, establishing the areas of greater suitability or opportunity that can be generated, where climate change may even favour its presence and/or fruiting.


Alder Buckthorn georeferenced

Compartir esta publicación

Agreement for the preparation of chestnut plants grafted with local varieties in La Mata Forest Nursery (Principado de Asturias). June 2021

Agreement for the preparation of chestnut plants grafted with local varieties in La Mata Forest Nursery (Principado de Asturias). June 2021 2560 1469 Fundación Oso Pardo

After several meetings and preparatory work, on June 15, 2021 a working meeting was held at La Mata Forest Nursery (Grado, Asturias) for the organization and preparation of the chestnut plant production campaign for the project ‘LIFE Bears with Future’. David Villar, General Director of Natural Environment and Rural Planning of the Principado de Asturias, Eloy Ron, of the Society of Services of the Principado de Asturias and technical manager of the forest nursery, Pedro Álvarez, professor at the University of Oviedo, Fernando Ballesteros, project coordinator and member of the Brown Bear Foundation and Belén Garzón, Tragsatec technician, participated in the meeting.

The project ‘LIFE Bears with Future’ will plant 25,000 chestnut trees, of which about 20,000 will be chestnut trees grafted with local varieties from each area and the rest wild chestnut trees without grafting. As a very relevant contribution to the project, the Principado deAsturias government will produce 15,000 chestnut trees grafted with local varieties in La Mata Forest Nursery, without cost associated with the project.

The working meeting has allowed to establish the bases and define needs and roles in the production of chestnut trees, which will begin with the collection of seeds in official authorized Seed Sources in autumn 2021 by the technical team of the forest nursery. The LIFE project will provide technical support for grafting work, which can be done in the nursery and/or in the field once the planting is done, with the most appropriate techniques in each case. The project will also inventory and locate old chestnut trees grafted with different local varieties of interest, which can provide suitable plant material for grafting, considering aspects such as resistance to diseases, vulnerability to climate change or productivity and phenology of fruiting.


From left to right: Pedro Álvarez (University of Oviedo), David Villar, (General Director of Natural Resources and Rural Planning of the Principado de Asturias) and Fernando Ballesteros (Brown Bear Foundation), reviewing characteristics of seedling production in the Forest Nursery La Mata (Grado, Asturias).

Compartir esta publicación

First cherry seed campaign collection. June 2021

First cherry seed campaign collection. June 2021 3680 2760 Fundación Oso Pardo

One of the main species to be planted in the trophic enrichment forests foreseen in the ‘LIFE Bears with Future’ project is the cherry tree (Prunus avium). To begin with the production of locally sourced seedlings, in this month of June 2021, the project field team has collected 100 kg of cherry fruits in the north of León. The cherry tree is a regulated species, so it can only be planted from seeds collected in forest stands declared as an official seed source and all the seed collected in the different areas must be certified by the Castilla y León forest administration, to guarantee the suitability of the origin of the seeds and the traceability of the plant production process.

The cherry fruits have been collected in trees from the Seed Source FS/95/02/24/001, in the municipality of Cubillos del Sil (León), under the supervision of the environmental agents of the Junta de Castilla y León. 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 amount collected will allow to obtain 50,000-60,000 seeds. We are evaluating the availability of fruit in other seed sources of the project area for future collections, and at the end of summer or during autumn we will proceed to the collection of other seeds of interest such as Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus), Whitebeam (Sorbus aria), Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) and other species.

 On July 21, the cherry seed collection was completed with another 40 kg collected by the LIFE project team at the Seed Source FS-95/04/24/023 in Villablino (León).


Field team of the ‘LIFE Bears with Future’ project collecting cherries for plant production.

Compartir esta publicación

Presentation of the “Bears with Future” LIFE Project. March 2021

Presentation of the “Bears with Future” LIFE Project. March 2021 500 281 Fundación Oso Pardo

The “Bears with Future” LIFE Project, with the objective of facilitating the adaptation of the brown bear to climate change, was presented to the media on 11th March. The project’s actions, co-financed by the European LIFE program, will be undertaken in 8 protected areas of the Natura 2000 Network. These are the reserves of Peña Ubiña, Caldoveiro, Montovo-La Mesa, Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias and Somiedo in Asturias and the Alto Sil and Sierra de los Ancares in León for the western Cantabrian brown bear subpopulation, and in the Montaña Palentina reserve in Palencia for the eastern subpopulation.

Science has shown us that climate change will particularly affect the brown bear during its hibernation period, which will tend to shorten given the increasing temperatures, but that it will also impact on the production of wild fruits on which the bear feeds, some of which, such as the bilberry, have already shown irregular fruiting success over the past few years. Additionally, greater mobility of the bears in winter may increase interactions with hunting activities and with other outdoor recreational and sporting activities which are undergoing an important surge in mountain areas.

Planting, restoration and research

The Project plans to plant, in various phases, 150,000 fleshy fruit producing native trees and shrubs in 225 copses, occupying a total surface area of 155 hectares. A further 25,000 sweet chestnuts, grafted with native varieties, will be added in 75 groves covering 55 hectares and, as for the former, strategically located in areas selected considering the predicted climate change impact. Researchers from the universities of Oviedo, Valladolid, Cantabria and Extremadura will be participating in these and other project actions undertaken. The restoration of abandoned sweet chestnut groves is also contemplated, using treatments to improve both their fruiting yield and resilience to climate change.

In addition to the planting program, a study of the vulnerability of the most sensitive areas for brown bear conservation to climate change will also be carried out, which will be evaluated by two work groups of the regional administrations implicated for its future application.

The project’s actions will also present an opportunity to promote rural development and the creation of jobs linked to wildlife conservation actions and adaptation in the context of climate change, with strong potential for being copied across the entire area with Cantabrian brown bear presence and also other areas facing similar challenges.

Information and awareness campaign

The other main line of actions is directed towards those groups that undertake activities in the mountains in the Cantabrian bear territory in winter, fundamentally those related to hunting and mountain sports. An intensive campaign will be carried out with over 100 hunting and winter sports associations to explain the new scenarios arising from climate change and to raise awareness of the implications of this on bear activity. The campaign will be accompanied by audiovisual materials, explanatory leaflets and other information and awareness raising materials which will also be distributed among the tourism establishments across the bear areas.

A coordinated project

The “Bears with Future” Project, co-financed by the European Union LIFE Project, will be carried out until 2025. It is coordinated by the Brown Bear Foundation in partnership with the Biodiversity Foundation, Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, and the Natural heritage Foundation of the Castilla y León regional government. The Government of Asturias is the co-financer, via the Directorate General for the Environment and Rural Planning, of the Department of Rural Development, Agriculture and Fisheries.

Compartir esta publicación
WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin