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Forested area of Spain.

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Offline Clive

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« on: September 01, 2007, 17:41 PM »
I am getting a little confused as to the statistics of the forested area of Spain.

The below quote taken from the second page (third from last post) of
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,395.0.html

Quote
For example, the area around Vilafailia is incredibly rich in certain types of birds (bustards, etc) precisely because of ancient deforestation. These are the so-called psuedo-steppes, man-made but vital for certain wildlife at an EU level. It mimics the true steppes of Asia, but with a summer drought. Given that forest is expanding almost everywhere in Spain (where urbanisation isn't) this type of habitat is far more precious.

I would like to know who has access to data that substantiates the claim that “forest is expanding” In real terms that is, taking in to account forest land that has burned and is now subject to desertification but is still classified as forest.

There is land outside of my window designated as forest with barely a tree on it. It was “forest” before the fire the year before last but now it is Mediterranean scrub and maquis (called hedgehog zone because of the low growing prickly plants that are there now). As the land dries and the wind blows, the goats are left to overgraze and the soil is eroded we are left with designated “forest” land that actually doesn’t have a tree on it.

Nearly 27,000 hectares of forested land have burned in Spain this year, 66 per cent less than during the corresponding period in 2006 and the lowest level since 1997, the daily El Pais has reported. But am I to believe that more than this amount has been replanted as forest? No I don’t think so.

Because I worked in forestry and land management I am always interested to see those rows and rows of tree protectors across mountains so I always stop and take a look to see what species has been planted and what condition the saplings are in. I rarely get to identify the sapling because they are almost always dead and gone. I pity the poor eco volunteer that sweated to dig the whole and plant the doomed sapling.

I believe that forested area statistics are meaningless when desertification and land classification are not taken into account.

My definition of a forest is a dense growth of trees, plants, and underbrush covering a large area. What I see outside my window is not a forest but it is classified as forest...It is not even wooded....

Clive
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Offline nick

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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2007, 18:03 PM »
Clearly not everywhere is expanding. That would be impossible and clearly anywhere at serious risk from desertification suggests that forest is not expanding, or is under risk, in that area.

Certainly in Catalonia forest is expanding almost everywhere. It is cited as the main reason for the change in bird species in the region over the last 20 years. http://www.iberianature.com/material/birdatlas.html

There has been widespread abandonment of the countryide across huge areas of Spain in areas where people once grew crops and cut down trees for firewood.

I'm not entirely sure that you definition of forest is correct, but whatever the case it takes centuries to arrive at climax states of forest.

But what you rightly want our bonafide references. Let's start looking for them:

Castilla y León
La Comunidad recupera en 50 años el bosque perdido en 5.000
http://www.abc.es/hemeroteca/historico-20-08-2007/abc/CastillaLeon/la-comunidad-recupera-en-50-a%C3%B1os-el-bosque-perdido-en-5000_164443889159.html

By the way,  have you seen an old photos of Grazalema?
« Last Edit: September 01, 2007, 18:11 PM by nick »
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2007, 14:19 PM »
Well, now I am even more baffled after a conversation with a Spanish friend with regards to the amount of trees in the Sierra de Grazalema and in Spain generally. He actually left my house scratching his head with a mission to find out more information from the older people that he knows.

This guy was born in the room that is now our bedroom in a small valley close to Grazalema so he has memories of what the sierras were like 45 years ago. The conversation went like this.

Clive: "Are there more trees here now that there was when you grew up here?"
Al: "Oh yes, many more"
Clive: "So, the mountain opposite the house... Did that have trees on it when you were a kid?
Al: "no it was completely bare"
Clive: "that would be because of the lime making pits though yes? So there must have been wood there for them to make the fires that are needed to make lime powder. So there must have been trees there before the lime production started..."

At this point we agree that yes before the lime pits there must have been "forest" in order for the lime pits to be there...So logically the bit in between during lime manufacturing was not "normal"

Then we start talking about old sayings and memories.

Al: "People say that in the old days a squirrel could travel all the way from the Pyrenees to Seville without setting foot on the ground"
Clive: “in the old days it used to take 3 days to get from Malaga to Cadiz on horseback and you never came out of the forest”
Al: “right then, there must have been more trees before because there is no way a squirrel could do that now. There aren’t enough trees!”

Bearing in mind that Andalucia is part of the desertification process it makes sense that here there would be less trees than before. But how do we explain the squirrel?

We then talk about the abandonment of farms and land and we both agree that nature has reclaimed land that was once maintained arable or grazing but we struggled to define whether this land is now “forest”. We both agreed that it is simply “campo” and had another beer.

I can’t wait till he comes back with answers from the village elders.....

Clive


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Offline nick

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« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2007, 01:23 AM »
"People say that in the old days a squirrel could travel all the way from the Pyrenees to Seville without setting foot on the ground"

This is from Pliny the Elder. It often appeared in Spanish school texts in the last century. That's where you're neighbour would have got it from.

Though no doubt much more wooded, Iberia would have treeless areas too - part of the Ebro basin for instance has "always" been moorland.

 
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Offline nick

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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2007, 01:24 AM »
When I go away I often like to look at old photos of the area in bars and such. It's incredible how treeless Spain was until it began to turn around in the 1950s. Let's look into this more. I find it utterly fascinating too.
 
My mate Francis (Civil War parrot post) taught the director of Barcelona zoo English for a year. He told Francis that the single most important change for nature Spain in Spain in the last century was the reforestation programme begun in 1950s and continued into the present, aided by the abandonment of the countryside.
 
There's a UN? study that was published last year which I annoyingly can't find about the change in forest in the world in the last 30 years. Number 1 increase is Spain and number 2 is Ukraine (because of Chenolbyl) I guess I'll find it soon.
 
Another angle is what is true Iberian forest? Some think that much forest would have been considerbly thinner than today's forest, perhaps like a denser dehesa, due to the much greater presence of grazing animals. - like Africa savanah forests, fundementally kept clean by some fire and massive rabbit cropping, and  by huge migratory herds of deer, ancient cows and whatnot, travelling across the Pensinsula in search of food.
 
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Offline lucy

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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2007, 09:22 AM »
The Catalan pre-Pyrenees has seen alot of re-foresting.  I saw photos in Montgrony like the ones you mention Nick - the sanctuary and hostal were startlingly isolated on the bare mountain side, which was given over to pasture.  Now there are only a few clearings among mainly pine forest. 

Offline steveT

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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2007, 01:14 AM »
Dear all,

If you travel the length of the sistema central, you can clearly see vaste stands of natural reafforestation.......nearly all of it deciduous oak. Typicallly it very dense, the trees are tall and spindly. Off the top of my head there's sq km of it in the Riaza area - north facing, Piornal/Jerte area,  lesser expanses, if memeory serves me correctly, of  deciduous oak and encina in the Tormes valley in the Navacepada area and other areas can be seen driving from Madrid into the sistema........... and there is loads more ..........However, loads off it remains deforested ( I wrote some stuff on this under trees about history of scots pine in the S.C. .... not sure how to link ). Again the Rioja Sierras have large areas of what looks like 'new' natural regrowth of d. oak......and I think the Sierra de la Demanda is similar( It's the only large sierra I've not been to.....un dia...). If you took these few areas I've mentioned we are talking 100s of sq km of new 'real' forest.

All this is due to change of land use in the 50 years..........there's loads of interesting questions, opportunities and threats too......related to this topic.

steveT

Offline steveT

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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2007, 01:58 AM »
Dear all,

I was reading about the bear paw in Navacepada and it reminded me of something I saw in the area some years ago........it's related to my previous posting and the theme but I thought I'd start afresh.

I cannot rmember where exactly.....I think it was the Menga pass area that links Avila.......... I remember it being high up in what is the Gredos (part of the Sistema Central). Here I came across a large area many sq km, where there were 100 plus year old  or perhaps nearer 200 plus year old oak trees (at that height it is hard to guess the age.....my best guess would circa 200yr). BUT they were many 100s of m apart AND there was negligible regrowth ( I'm sure the land was grazed) and  the trees were not part of boundarys...........You rarely see this and so it looks strange. My only explanation was that there had been a forest here about  200 years ago, but it was felled and few young trees had been left which have now matured...............or perhaps the end process of forests death by grazing ( though there no or very few very old oaks so this is not so likely)..........

Does anyone know was there alot of Spanish ship building using Spanish oak for the Trafalgar fleet, or was it mostly French ships built with French trees that made up the fleet.

Also does anyone know where the trees came from that built the Spanish ships for the Lepanto and Armada fleets?

Thanks steveT




Offline nick

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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2007, 21:07 PM »
Right,

Here's part of the article I was looking for:

http://www.helsinki.fi/press/forestidentity.shtml

End of Deforestation in View?
Among the 50 nations studied, forest area in percentage terms shrank fastest from 1990 to 2005 in Nigeria and the Philippines, and expanded fastest in Viet Nam, Spain and China.

Growing stock fell fastest in Indonesia, Nigeria and the Philippines, and increased fastest in the Ukraine and Spain.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061113180213.htm

The graph shows Indonesia down roughly 2% per year in forested area and down 4% in density. At the other end of the spectrum is Spain, which increased its forested area by 2% per year and its density by almost 1%.


« Last Edit: September 08, 2007, 21:10 PM by nick »
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Offline nick

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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2007, 21:14 PM »
The full article is this

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/103/46/17574

But it won't open
Nick
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Offline steveT

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« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2007, 20:48 PM »
Nick,

This was really interesting!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thanks steveT

Offline Jill

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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2007, 21:22 PM »
Hi Steve T (et al)

I think that the trees which were used to build ships in the distant past must have come from pretty near the coast. I've read that it could take up to two years to drag a big oak tree from the Weald to the Kentish coast. It sounds pretty unbelievable, but the depth of mud on the roads made haulage almost impossible. Anything that couldn't be fitted on the back of a horse used to be shipped around the edge of that  rain-sodden isle. Here, things will obviously have been a lot drier and therefore less muddy but the hills and mountains would have been tremendous obstacles. I can't honestly see anyone dragging trees all the way from the centre of Spain to the coast.

Jill

Offline steveT

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« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2007, 23:16 PM »
Dear Jill,

I can see that dragging the logs would be hard, but some could be pre-processed ie into planks insitu. Also if you have no big trees near the coast ( they will often be the first to go ) or they are of the wrong species you will have to go inland ..... however hard it may be to extract them.

steveT

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2007, 01:05 AM »
Greetings All,
Yet another great iberianatureforum thread that I missed out on while ligging lolling about on beach. Still a lot of reading to catch up on, but just to stick my oar in so that this thread doesn’t get one of those red-letter warnings on it, I too have been perplexed by the spurious claims by politicians and which are then, of course, oft-repeated by the journalists. Don’t really want to señalar con el dedo (En. anyone?) any autonomous particular region but Nick’s link is a case in point: the regional minister says that his region is predominantly forest and rural land. OK, no-one doubts that it is rural, but to equate rural with forest is (intentionally) misleading. Possibly what they are doing in order to reach their mind-boggling stats., is to equate monte with forest.

Another example of this misleading is that ever since I came to Madrid (more or less around the time squirrels could leap from tree to tree), I have heard mayor after mayor repeat time and time again - ad nauseum and whenever someone complains about the number of centenary trees being cut down to build yet another tunnel or car park - that Madrid is the European capital with most parkland and trees. And I have put this wonderful piece of hype to the test by often asking Madrileños if they know which capital city in Europe, etc. etc. To a man (and woman) they have all repeated the bilge they have been force-fed. My only explanation is that they count each tree – whether full-grown or not - as having a canopy of so-many square metres (taken to its extreme that means a 6-metre square patch of dry land with four trees with very little folliage might be calculated as comprising 12 square metres of forest/park/woodland)

As for trees being used for shipbuilding, I was told that most of the wood for the ships going to the Americas came from Extremadura i.e. the region furthest away from the coast - possibly 'cos being so far inland it was the only place where there were still big trees left?

Re. the reforestry from 1990 to 2005
Quote
Spain, which increased its forested area by 2% per year and its density by almost 1%.
can someone better at basic arithmetic than yours truly do the basic maths on that one. I get roughly 30% increase for the first figure - which just cannot be true (as Clive mentioned, we've all seen large expanses of land with pathetic specimens of shrivelled trees). On the other hand, has anyone done a similar stat. analysis on the areas burnt over the same period? As I mentioned elsewhere, there must be humungous amount of fraudulent figures involved in reforestry - as in just about any (commercial) activity involving subsidies and EU-funding.

Regs.
Technopat
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Offline SueMac

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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2007, 11:16 AM »
Hi there all
 Coming in late on a thread again...
Subject of trees and this particular area which is supposed to be becoming desertified. In our first year we have planted about 150 trees, all doing quite nicely thank you . Between the casa and P lumberas there is a very new olive grove being planted and we are talking of thousands of trees. I was reminded yesterday showing some friends from England the area around here and correcting their mispercepti ons by showing south side and north side of the mountains here. Watching their jaws drop as we moved round from barren soaring mountains to pine and oak covered  slopes. I am not trying to take away form any of the debate - just saying that at another level this rather overlooked area in terms of Spain is coming alive because of tree planting.
 SueMac
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Offline Sue

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« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2007, 16:19 PM »
Hi All,

We have not yet agreed on a definition of forest and it would be interesting to see how much we alter in our descriptions and unless we know the official definition we can only guess at its meaning.

SueMac you mentioned that you have planted 150 trees but not whether they are native to your area or cultivated for fruit. It is also interesting to note that you talk about trees grown for a crop ie olives in the same thread as forests. So does that mean that you consider them one and the same?

For me personally, the monoculture of an olive tree plantation does not blend easily with the topic of native forest. An olive/fig/pear or whatever plantation is usually associated with use of pesticides and a complete ground clearance strategy, thus I cannot see this as any more than a planted crop. Yes the roots are able to fix the soil to an extent but this is not a natural environment.

Regards, Sue
« Last Edit: September 30, 2007, 16:22 PM by Sue »
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Offline SueMac

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« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2007, 22:34 PM »
Hi there
Our personal trees are a total mix from fruit to pines, to almonds to  flowering shrubs.  My neighbour has also put in pines.I  still think you are missing the point  - someone showed a picture of Almeria under plastic - I cant quote you what has been going into  the earth in this end of Murcia and  Andalucia but it is going to help against soil erosion. Also  the northern slopes are beginning to look a bit like forests to my untrained eye. Turning back the clock after much time of neglect on the land has to start somewhere.
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2007, 23:09 PM »
Hi SueMac and all, some interesting points being raised here.

(SueMac). The pines you have planted for example, are they(were they) endemic to the area in the past?  Or are they species of pines that really have no place in the hot and dry landscape of southern Europe.

The areas such as the badlands in the Granada Plateau around the Guadix for example hasn't been formed in the recent past by neglect, nor has the dry area of the Tabernass desert. these are naturally occurring treeless zones. (much the same but geologically different from the Ebro delta scenario that Nick mentions in an earlier post here.

As for soil erosion, thousands of olive trees planted in a monoculture system will (and does) cause more soil erosion than a sensible multi crop well managed piece of land. (olives to me are a crop plant and don't make a forest). Soil erosion due to bad land management is one thing but the desertification of Southern / eastern Spain has been happening for a very long time and I feel that planting a few trees now that are evolved from the wetter and cooler north will not halt the inevitable transformation of this part of the world.

I think Sue has a very good point that the definition of a forest in the mind of the people posting here needs to be aired. (my first post in this topic has my definition)

Then the difference between native forest (virgin and natural regrowth) and crop planting of "pine" trees needs defining and also a study of what exactly lay between Cordoba and the Sierra Cazorla before those mind bogglingly enormous olive groves were planted.

TP has also raised some very valid points about the definition and usage of words such as "monte" and at this point I am of the mind that the bigger powers that be are cooking the books as usual...(yes, even at the European level)

Clive

« Last Edit: September 30, 2007, 23:15 PM by Wildside »
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2007, 12:31 PM »
Just quickly, a definition of "bosque" and more from the Spanish Ministry for the Environment (MMA);

"Bosque: superficie mínima de tierras de entre 0,05 y 1,0 hectáreas (ha) con una cubierta de copas (o una densidad de población equivalente) que excede del 10 al 30% y con árboles que pueden alcanzar una altura mínima de entre 2 y 5 metros (m) a su madurez in situ. Un bosque puede consistir en formaciones forestales densas, donde los árboles de diversas alturas y el sotobosque cubren una proporción considerable del terreno, o bien en una masa boscosa clara. Se consideran bosques las masas forestales naturales y todas las plantaciones jóvenes que aún no han alcanzado una densidad de copas de entre el 10 y el 30% o una altura de los árboles de entre 2 y 5 m, así como las superficies que normalmente forman parte de la zona boscosa pero carecen temporalmente de población forestal a consecuencia de la intervención humana, por ejemplo la explotación, o de causas naturales, pero que se espera vuelvan a convertirse en bosque;

La definición adoptada por España establece como parámetros básicos:

Cubierta mínima de copas: 20%
Unidad mínima de superficie: 1 hectárea
Altura mínima de los árboles en su madurez: 3 metros
"

My personal definition of a forest is a large area of trees and undergrowth in which it is possible to get lost whereas woods you can walk out of.
In Spanish, the adjective "forestal" is used extensively but forest = bosque and woods = bosque. I think selva = jungle.
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2007, 14:48 PM »
Greetings Lisa and All,
Thanx for that defintion, Lisa - would be interesting to see if all the autonomous communities have adopted that national def.  >:D

My Diccionario de la Naturaleza (Ed. Pedro Cifuentes et al, ETS Ingenieros de Montes, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 1993) starts its definiton of "bosque" with the following:

Quote
Aunque la palabra "bosque" tiene un claro contenido para cada uno de nosotros, no es fácil de definir. Hay muchas maneras de enfocarlo, oscilando entre el concepto de "un área dedicada a la producción de madera" -definición usada en las viejas leyes forestales-  y el concepto actual de ecosistema como interacción de todas las criaturas vivas de un área determinada, entre sí y con el medio inorgánico.

Which basically says:
a) we all have our own idea and there is no easy definition;
b) Spain's old forestry laws clearly defined forests as areas for wood production;
c) the present-day definition is that of an ecosystem in which all the living creatures of a certain area can interact among themselves and with their inorganic surroundings.

The book in question then gets incredibly technical and defines types of bosques in Spain.

While we are still at the early stage of agreeing on an iberianatureforumers' definition of forests/bosques/woods, maybe we should also define the concept "get lost in", 'cos I know of people who can get/have got lost in even the smallest copse - sounds travel badly over large distances when among trees and at even 100 metres. As I mentioned elsewhere yonks ago, I always wear bright-coloured clothing and carry bright-coloured rucksacks, etc. when planning a trip outside the city walls - if I'm with kids, I want them to be able to see me from a distance, and if there's even the remotest possibility of hunters, likewise.  :dancing:

Regs.,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266