Review of the first plantings campaign of the LIFE Bears with Future project. October 2023

Review of the first plantings campaign of the LIFE Bears with Future project. October 2023

Review of the first plantings campaign of the LIFE Bears with Future project. October 2023 1000 750 Fundación Oso Pardo

Checks of the tree plantations undertaken between last November and March as part of the first planting campaign of the LIFE Bears with future project, were made during September and October. During these checks, the percentage of successfully rooting plants was evaluated in order to apply the necessary corrections to the second planting campaign, currently underway.

The result has been very positive, with a success rate close to 90%, although it will be crucial to evaluate their continued development over the coming spring and summer seasons.

Summer 2023 saw a series of severe heatwaves in the area, leading to problems caused by insolation in the newly planted trees, which were further exacerbated by the long periods of drought also suffered by the area. Given that the models for the coming summers predict a worsening of these conditions, the selection of ideal locations for these plantations is fundamental. In this regard, terrain receiving less direct sunshine and with a degree of existing shrub cover to protect the newly planted trees from direct sunlight are selected, in addition to creating a microclimate which reduces evapotranspiration and also minimises the risk of browsing by herbivores. Minimal scrub clearance is only undertaken on a planted seedling by seedling basis in order to avoid excessive competition with the other woody species present.

The terrain reforested during the project’s first planting campaign complies with these criteria and the occurrence of a few small localised storms has contributed towards meeting the objectives.

FOP staff checking a grafted apple in the Alto Sil area of León, within the framework of the LIFE Bears with future project.

Furthermore, the sweet chestnut trees grafted last spring in the La Mata Forestry Nursery of the Principality of Asturias were checked and which currently continue to grow. These were grafted with eight different local varieties from the project area (Parede, Chamberga, Galliciana, Naveixa, Palaciana, Panchina, Pelona and Vaquera). Some of these varieties are already under-represented in the region, such that the grafting work to recover these varieties is of high scientific and practical value for their recovery and conservation.

These traditional varieties of sweet chestnut are in the process of being lost, as was graphically illustrated by the genetic study of the surveyed trees at the start of the project. These trees were also in a poor condition and their survival is not guaranteed in the middle term. During the first phase, buds from genetically identified sweet chestnuts were collected for grafting in the nursery.

Part of the revision process in the nursery has consisted of the elimination of suckers from the grafted sweet chestnuts in order for the seedlings to invest all of their energy in growing the grafted section. Extreme precautions were taken in the cleaning and sterilization (using a bleach solution) of the tool used after each cut, and each cut was sealed using mastic.

Removal of the suckers from the grafted sweet chestnuts within the framework of the LIFE Bears with future project. La Mata Forestry Nursery of the Principality of Asturias

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 co-financer, via the Directorate General for the Environment and Rural Planning, of the Department of Rural Development, Agriculture and Fisheries. Tierra Pura Foundation collaborates technically and co-finances the project.

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