The work team of the La Mata Forest Nursery (Grado, Asturias), dependent on the Principality of Asturias, has recently finished sowing the chestnuts collected last autumn in various Asturian official seed sources for the production of chestnut plants for the LIFE Bears with Future project. An important effort has been made and more than 60,000 chestnuts have been planted in 500 cm3 forest pots, and these first days of February the new seedlings have already begun to sprout. The plants will be cared for in the nursery in the next months. The LIFE Bears with Future project will plant 25,000 chestnut trees for the production of fruit, most of which will be grafted with local varieties typical of each territory. The Regional Ministry of Rural Environment and Territory of the Principality of Asturias contributes to the project with the production of 15,000 chestnut trees in the La Mata Forest Nursery, which will be obtained from the chestnuts planted this season.
On February 9, 2022, a work meeting was held at the nursery to review the progress of chestnut production and plan the actions to be carried out this year, with the participation of Eloy Ron, technical manager of the nursery, Pedro Álvarez, professor at the University of Oviedo, Fernando Ballesteros and María Gómez from the Fundación Oso Pardo and Jairo Marqués, from Tragsatec and responsible for coordinating the participation of the Principality of Asturias in the LIFE project. At the meeting, the characterization of old chestnut trees for the selection of identified varieties adequate as grafting material sources and the corresponding administrative requirements were also presented and discussed. In the autumn of 2022, part of the chestnut trees will be planted in different Natura 2000 sites within the brown bear distribution area in Asturias, once the corresponding land stewardship agreements have been established with the interested public or private owners. Subsequently, these chestnut trees will be grafted directly in the field by the LIFE project team with the selected and identified local varieties that are most interesting and suitable for the plantation areas.