More than 100,000 trees have been planted in northwestern Spain to secure the brown bear’s future food supply

More than 100,000 trees have been planted in northwestern Spain to secure the brown bear’s future food supply

More than 100,000 trees have been planted in northwestern Spain to secure the brown bear’s future food supply 1920 1080 Fundación Oso Pardo

The Brown Bear Foundation (FOP) continues to work within the framework of the LIFE Bears with Future project to adapt the species’ habitat to climate change. Local work crews will finish the second planting campaign of the project in the coming days, with more than 100,000 native trees – mostly fruit bearing trees- planted since these actions began in 2022, 46,800 during this campaign.

The plantations cover 115 hectares so far and have been carried out in public lands in the municipalities of Palacios del Sil, Páramo del Sil and Villablino (León) and also on private properties in these municipalities after establishing land stewardship agreements with the landowners.

The aim is to create stands of native fruit-producing trees, «supermarkets» for the bear that will reinforce its diet in scenarios of climate change. The characteristics of the chosen species and the location of plantation plots have been taken into account, with some of them located at an altitude of more than 1,000 metres.

The work of this second planting campaign began in October, after hiring 10 unemployed residents of the municipalities. Between October and early April, the crews planted 13,000 wild cherry trees (Prunus avium), 3,400 alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus), 600 wild apple trees and 2,500 grafted apple trees of different varieties (Malus sp.), 9,300 whitebeam trees (Sorbus aria), 5,000 rowan trees (Sorbus aucuparia) and 13,000 silver birch trees (Betula alba) in various stands. In addition, 2,930 chestnut trees (Castanea sativa) have also been planted in this period – a species that, in the new climate scenarios, is expected to thrive in new areas and at higher altitudes in the Cantabrian Mountains.

Trabajos de reforestación durante el LIFE Osos con Futuro

The FOP LIFE project technicians collected seeds in ecologically similar areas to produce the seedlings in the Central Forest Nursery of the Junta de Castilla y León. The chestnut trees were produced in the La Mata forest nursery, belonging to the Principality of Asturias, some of them with grafts of traditional varieties.

These actions benefit the brown bear and biodiversity as a whole by improving the environmental quality of bear habitats, making them more resilient to climate change. The involvement of the municipalities and the creation of local employment is also key to the project.

The LIFE Bears with Future Project, co-financed by the European Union’s LIFE Programme, 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. Both the Government of Asturias and Tierra Pura Foundation collaborate in the project.

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