The first campaign of trophic enrichment plantations for the brown bear was started on 12 December 2022 in the Alto Sil area of León, within the LIFE Osos con futuro project framework and which by the end will comprise the planting of 150 thousand fruit trees and 25 thousand sweet chestnut trees occupying a total of 200 hectares spread across different parts of Castilla y León and Asturias.
The plantations are being made in the public utility lands belonging to the Anllares del Sil local council, in the municipality of Páramo del Sil and of the public mountains of Palacios del Sil. Planting will also be undertaken in land belonging to the Anllarinos del Sil local council, other areas of Páramo del Sil, as well as in private estates of both municipalities. A land custody agreement guaranteeing the long-term presence of these plantations is signed with each landowner prior to work commencing. Planting will also be undertaken in those farmlands acquired with LIFE funds.
Selection of the areas for planting was first undertaken by the project via suitability studies based on plant species and land characteristics in relation to climate change.
Local teams started preparing the ground in October 2022 for the hole digging and scrub clearance using a walking excavator, a machine which is able to reach difficult-to-access areas and work on steep slopes, but which produces a minimum impact on the terrain and the existing vegetation. This mechanised labour guarantees the clearance of large amounts of soil for each hole, greatly facilitating the rootstock development of the plants.
The tree and shrub species being planted, the fruits of which serve as food for the brown bear from the end of spring through to the start of winter, are cherry, apple, alder buckthorn, rowan and whitebeams, while chestnut planting will also start very shortly. Collection programs of native wild seeds for the nursery production of seedlings have been undertaken since the start of the project. Two forestry teams, each comprising three men and three women from the immediate area, have been contracted, contributing to local job creation. A total of close to 70,000 fruiting trees and shrubs are planned to be planted during this first plantation campaign, which will be completed between the end of March and start of April, depending on meteorological conditions.
A coordinated project
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.