THE FOREST AREA PURCHASED BY CONSERVATION ENTITIES IS ON THE GROWTH AND EXCEEDS HALF A MILLION HECTARES IN SPAIN
Private initiatives against climate change. Spain joins the Anglo-Saxon countries that for decades have been committed to acquiring forest plots for their conservation and promoting sustainable use. It is another way to preserve biodiversity and a powerful weapon against climate change. The area under custody in Spain now exceeds half a million hectares.
Guarded terrain, armored terrain. You cannot build on it, nor can you speculate economically. In addition, its possible abandonment and subsequent degradation are stopped. The custody of the territory supposes the recovery of spaces won for nature and therefore they become a not inconsiderable environmental shield. It allows the restoration of flora and fauna habitats, or the reintroduction of threatened and endangered species. “All of this fulfills its function to combat climate change”, according to José Antonio Larrosa Rocamora, professor in the Department of Human Geography at the University of Alicante.
Larrosa speaks from the experience put into practice in a Benimantell farm, owned by Fundem, an entity that is dedicated to the custody of the territory in the Valencian Community and also in Vizcaya or Albacete. “Soil management is an important element to curb climate change, since one of the most important problems we have in Spain is desertification, which has also been influenced by bad practices of human beings throughout history », He reasons. In Benimantell, for example, the plowing of the land was changed to clearing. “With this last technique we avoid the loss of soil by erosion”, explains Larrosa.
The purchase of forest plots by individuals implies better management of biodiversity and also favors fire prevention. Citizens can also become aware of the importance of a protected natural environment, not a minor issue with a health crisis linked to an environmental crisis that has the planet in suspense since last February. “The environmental education work that Fundem does in general is important, and we as custodians in particular, since in the repopulation campaigns we take schoolchildren, who collaborate in the plantation, while all the processes are explained to them,” he says. Larrosa.
The custody of the territory is the set of legal strategies or techniques, but also of citizen participation through which the owners and users are involved in its conservation, as well as in the use of the values and natural, cultural and landscape resources . This is pointed out by the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.
The purchase of a certain natural space is made through voluntary agreements between the parties. The Territory Custody Platform (PCT), led by the Biodiversity Foundation, “is a project whose objective is to promote a large part of the work related to the custody of the territory in Spain.” “In addition, it launches numerous projects and initiatives in close collaboration with social agents”, as reported from the department of Teresa Ribera.
In many autonomous communities the lands are usually managed by environmental groups to develop restoration projects. As for example with Fundem, which works hand in hand with Acció Ecologista Agró in the 1,500 hectares acquired in the Marjal de Almenara. There the preservation of native species such as the horned coot (Crested coot), the swamphen (Guthrie), the midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans), the samaruc (Hispanic Valencia) go petxinots (Unio elongatulus).
In the Valencian Community, most of the custody entities of the territory are within Avinença, whose development of which is also provided for in the future regional law for the Conservation of Natural Spaces.
The same situation occurs with the Rede Galega de Entidades de Custodia do Territorio that was created in 2014 in Galicia and pursues the conservation of forests to that of the fluvial environment, through the management of endemic flora species or threatened fauna. Adjacent to the Galician territory, in 2011 the Transcantábrica Network for the Custody of the Territory was formed, made up of people, companies, entities and foundations interested in the conservation of the territory, landscape, biodiversity and habitats of Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country and the mountainous north of Castilla y León. Among the principles they defend are the orderly, responsible and sustainable use of natural resources, pursuing the achievement of a supportive and respectful socio-economic development with natural and landscape values, as well as the awareness of society in its optimal management.
At the other extreme, in the Canary Islands, conservation groups such as SEO / BirdLife have for years promoted the compatibility between rural development and the safeguarding of biodiversity, involving owners and users of the land of interest in the conservation of the Natura 2000 Network. strategic for the survival of birds. For this, agreements and mechanisms of continuous collaboration are signed between owners, custodial entities and other public and private agents.
The custody of the territory is a fairly widespread practice throughout the world, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries since the end of the 19th century. A very favorable tax system with significant deductions for the acquisition of land has allowed this type of initiative to grow significantly in Canada and the United States. In 2016 alone in the United States there were about 23 million hectares protected with voluntary agreements, more than double the size of American national parks and without depending on public aid.
According to the latest ministry report, custody of the territory continues growing in Spain. The 2019 data reflects 218 entities, with an increase of 47.3%, with 3,100 agreements, which represents an increase of 29%. As for the area they cover, it now amounts to 577,915 hectares, 56% more. Private property continues to be predominant, with 73% of agreements and 48% of surface area. The Natura Network is fully represented in 38% of these agreements and 53% of the surface area. Many experts argue that tax incentives and financial mechanisms should be developed to make it more attractive, as is the case in the United States or Canada.
“All the land we acquire is reforested to increase biodiversity”
Interview with Enrique Montoliu, president of Fundem.
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