Last Monday, March 23, a visit was made to the plantations developed in the interpopulation corridor in the framework of the LIFE Project «Habitat Defragmentation for the Brown Bear in the Cantabrian Mountains». The visit was attended by the General Director of the Natural Environment of the Junta de Castilla y León, José Ángel Arranz, the mayor of La Pola de Gordón, Francisco Castañón, and the President of the Brown Bear Foundation (FOP), Guillermo Palomero.
LIFE Bear Defragmentation is a project coordinated by FOP and developed in cooperation with the Junta de Castilla y León. The project will be carried out until June 2016, mainly on the southern slope of the interpopulation corridor of the Cantabrian brown bear. Its total budget is 1,240,000 €, with the European Commission contributing 75% of the total. It is co-financed by Gas Natural Fenosa, the Junta de Castilla y León and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and with the support of the Principado de Asturias and the Leon municipalities of Los Barrios de Luna, Cármenes, La Pola de Gordón, Sena de Luna, Valdelugueros, Valdepiélago, Vegacervera and Villamanín.
The project is based on a previous study of the habitat quality and connectivity in the corridor, which has allowed to locate the main black spots with greater habitat improvement needs. With an original approach, a network of 180 connectivity small forests are strategically planted in the corridors, composed by autochthonous trees producing food and shelter for the bear. In addition, another 32 coverage forests will be planted in the surroundings of the existing passages in the main highway crossing the corridor. The plantations are established considering the requirements of the brown bear, the ecological suitability and the compatibility with the uses of the territory. There will be 68,000 native trees of species such as whitebeam (Sorbus aria), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), cherry (Prunus avium), alpine buckthorn (Rhamnus alpina), apple tree (Malus sp.), alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) and birch (Betula alba).
To date, 17,000 trees have been planted in the municipalities of Sena de Luna, Los Barrios de Luna, La Pola de Gordón and Valdelugueros (Montes de Utilidad Pública 117, 164, 165, 678, 747 and 748). The plants have been produced in the Forestry Nursery of the Junta de Castilla y León and, to a lesser extent, in the CIUDEN Forestry Nursery of the Autonomous Organism of National Parks, from seeds collected by the FOP in the region of origin and with its due phytosanitary passport and official certificate of origin.