Mediterranean Forests Restauration at Gavarres Massif
Project location: SPAIN, Gavarres Massif (Girona)
Project start date: November 2016 - Project end date: June 2017
Project number: 2016-038
Beneficiary: Cork Forest Conservation Alliance
The Cork Forest Conservation Alliance (CFCA) campaigns globally for the protection and preservation of the Mediterranean cork forests, its inhabitants and biodiversity, through education, direct action, and partnerships with communities, businesses and governments. CFCA believe that teaching and promoting sustainability is the best way to systematically approach and solve the many complex environmental challenges facing society today.
The CFCA’s most recent project, “ From Bark To Bottle” is an Eco-tour, whose goals are to provide each traveler the experience of discovering the world of cork through the forests, the unique natural biodiversity they host, their remarkable cultural and gastronomic heritage, including incredible wine and foods. But most importantly, the extraordinary people whose lives are woven into the fabric that is cork.
For 11 days the tour travels across Spain, “off the beaten track.” Following the cork trail, it will visit three of Spain’s major cork producing regions, Extremadura, Andalusia and Catalonia (Gavarres region). In each of these remarkable territories the travelers will experience the different topographies, the savanna-like dehesas in Extremadura, the steep crags of Andalusia and the dense moss-covered forests of Catalonia. In Catalonia the tour will visit the Gavarres Massif and its surrounding areas. One of the days in Catalonia, the travelers will tour the Eccociwine winery at Sant Martí Vell.
The Gavarres massif is a 30.000 hectares surface of well-preserved Mediterranean forest placed in the region of Girona (Catalonia, Spain). The Gavarres Massif Consortium was set up in November 1998 to manage and safeguard the conservation of Gavarres massif Area of Natural Interest. Its members include 23 public administrations (19 local councils, 2 county councils, the provincial Council of Girona and the Catalan government) who work together to preserve, manage and promote this protected area of Mediterranean forest.
Gavarres Consortium has an agreement with the CFCA to collaborate with the From Bark to Bottle project as a local coordinator in Catalonia.
The existence of a eucalyptus at Gavarres massif has its origin in the intensive plantations promoted in 1970 (pre-democratic era), for Torras Hostench, S.A paper plant. At that time it looked like a good opportunity to put in production the undercapitalized forests (agricultural land abandoned, burned forests, etc.).
Torres - Hostench developed an implantation Eucalyptus action in the province of Girona. The ambitious project was to test a number of 100 varieties brought in origin. Once he had made the selection of clones that best suits the local environmental conditions and with a better productivity, they’d made large Eucalyptus plantations.
Despite the huge social protests, the government agreed to this project and Torras Hostench planted 480 eucalyptus hectares inside Gavarres.
Today there are more than 400 hectares remaining at Gavarres massif, which have been completely abandoned and it causes a huge problem for the natural protected area.
Along with forest fires and processes developments of the 60s and 70s, eucalyptus plantations are one of the three causes that have transformed the landscape of the massif of the Gavarres in the last 50 years.
Gavarres Consortium and the Cork Forest Conservation Foundation are committed to this project for several reasons:
- Convert an artificial planting in natural forest
- Reduce the risk of ignition and spread of a forest fire at Gavarres
- Eliminate the desertification soil impact of the planted areas
- Increase forest resilience
- Increase the biodiversity of this Mediterranean forest
This project received a grant from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, Delegació a Catalunya.
In order to execute this project, there are some pilot projects that have been developed in the province of Girona in 2000, 2006 and 2012 and will serve us as a previous experience.
In 2012, the Gavarres Consortium, was the promoter of the third pilot project. In that case the purpose of the action was to remove 13 hectares of an old eucalyptus plantation in Cassà de la Selva and convert it into a young Mediterranean forest (cork oak and pines). The works had been done by workers at risk of social extinction of Drissa Foundation and thanks to that, the project was converted in an environmental and social initiative.
After 4 years, the results of the pilot project have proved to be very successful, which offers an opportunity for an expanded conversion project.
Based upon this first experience, the Gavarres Consortium and CFCA, would like to present a new project to the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation to start converting the remaining 400 hectares of eucalyptus abandoned plantations, within the Gavarres massif into an autochthonous Mediterranean forest.
The conversion process takes place in 5 different stages:
1. Clearing scrubland: The operation requires a prior selective scrubland clearing through mechanical means.
2. Cut eucalyptus: Cut eucalyptus with chainsaw in teams of four workers. In that phase, the sale of the wood will cover this cost.
3. Application of the herbicide treatment: Applying a localized treatment with approved herbicide.
Includes two treatments review next year.
4. Removing wood and stacking: Withdrawal of biomass and transport to the nearest point of sale. In that phase, the sale of the wood will cover this cost.
5. Reforestation with cork oak and pines: Planting native trees (cork oak and pine trees) with a distance of 7 x 7 meters. This type of works will be done with teams of 4 workers at risk of social exclusion.
During the 5th phases there it will be a supervisor and director of the project that will be in charge of the coordination of all the works.
The proposal submitted to the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation it consist in 3 options:
- A unique eucalyptus transformation action of a 10 Hectares plantation.
- A unique eucalyptus transformation action of a 20 Hectares plantation.
- A multiannual eucalyptus transformation action which could transform up to 200 Hectares of old plantations in 5-10 years.
The transformation of eucalyptus plantation in natural Mediterranean forests project will has different outcomes:
- Transform an artificial plantation into a natural young Mediterranean.
- Increase de biodiversity of the area and avoid the desertification
- Improve the forest fire prevention in that area and the forest resilience.