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LIFE ForestNetwork_Climate

The LIFE program is the only financial instrument of the European Union dedicated exclusively to the environment and climate action. ForestNetwork was born with the purpose of improving the management of the forests of the Spanish Mediterranean region included in the Natura 2000 Network, facilitating the access of the agents involved to the best available knowledge. The ultimate goal is for them to apply this knowledge to their daily work, specifically incorporating biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation objectives into their actions.

On March 1, 2022 we had the pleasure of attending the presentation day of ForestNetwork_Climate in Valencia organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Climate Emergency and Ecological Transition of the Generalitat Valenciana.

The objective of this session was to present different initiatives and projects that are being carried out in the Spanish territory that have as objective a structural improvement of the management that is carried out of the forests, so that they can better play their crucial role in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Forests are the terrestrial ecosystems with the greatest capacity to mitigate climate change, through the capture and accumulation of carbon. Therefore, they are an essential tool to deal with this threat. Its conservation, restoration and sustainable management must be a priority task.

This program aims to increase the adaptability of forests to climate change and for this purpose three lines of action are developed:

  1. Provide tools to assess the vulnerability of forests to climate change and to ensure the quality and effectiveness of adaptation measures.

  2. Apply these tools in 3 pilot cases, selected in three representative situations of the most frequent state of conservation in Spanish forests.

  3. Promote the replication of the proposed management model so that the adaptation measures can be extended to the entire territory.

The event was attended by experts from various organizations and administrations such as Europarc Spain, the Center for Research on Desertification (CIDE), the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) and the Basque Government.

It was a session full of information, valuable knowledge and with a spirit of commitment and improvement of the current situation of the Valencian and Spanish forests.

It was emphasized that the current situation in Spain is somewhat discouraging due to decades of poor management and neglect that have left a large part of the forests vulnerable to risks such as fires and pests. To deal with these threats, actions are necessary in two areas:

  • Species: monospecific stands must be replaced by heterogeneous forests, richer ecologically and more resistant to pests and diseases.

  • Density: very high densities must be reduced to improve tree growth and increase the resistance of stands to fire.

As a conclusion, it is established that sustainable forest management is essential to face climate change, which could be summarized in the following sentence: more trees is not better, better trees is better. Spain, with a forest area of 55%, is very well positioned to increase the quality of its natural environment and increase its resilience to the threat of climate change, but commitment and work are required by all the agents involved.

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