A good knowledge is essential to develop effective conservation strategies. The Fundación Oso Pardo (FOP, Brown Bear Foundation) technicians and scientists design and carry out habitat characterisation and population monitoring projects, with special attention to females with cubs. They also carry out genetic studies and analyse the behaviour of females with cubs.
The FOP considers key to delve into the multiple human dimensions related to the bear, and how different social, psychological, economic and political factors can influence perceptions, fears, attitudes and tolerance towards the bear. The conflicts between humans and bears are analysed and solutions for a peaceful coexistence are proposed.
The species that preferentially live in mountain habitats are among the most vulnerable to the possible effects of climate change. For this reason, the FOP collaborates in the research and monitoring of indicators of the effects of climate change on biodiversity in the mountains inhabited by the bear.
The Brown Bear Foundation (FOP) develops research projects within the framework of the ‘Strategy for the conservation of the brown bear in the Cantabrian Mountains’ (approved in 1999 and updated in 2019), one of whose lines of action is conservation applied research. These projects are carried out thanks to the support of different national or international private entities, and mainly with the support of the Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) through its calls for public aids intended to third-sector entities or non-governmental organizations that carry out activities of general interest in the field of scientific and technical environmental research.
In 2022, the projects financed by these aids was the following:
- Monitoring of bear population in the Cantabrian Mountains and the Pyrenees in 2022. Contribution to the knowledge and defense of nature by analyzing the potential of population expansion with habitat modelling and genetic tools.
- Radiotracking of potentially habituated and problem brown bears to improve the coexistence with people and contribute to the defense of biodiversity.
- Analysis of the procedures for approval of tourism development plans in protected spaces of bear areas. Proposals for a methodology for its strategic environmental assessment as a means to guarantee the sustainable use of natural resources.
- The brown bear as a sentinel for heavy metal contamination in the Cantabrian Mountains.
- Proposals to reduce the effects of climate change on the brown bear by analyzing the risk and magnitude of forest fires in climatic scenarios of the Cantabrian Mountains and their effects on key species for the bear.