Spanish Environmental Transformation Minister Teresa Ribera confirmed on Thursday during a conference that managing nature should be part of climate policy. Spain is therefore working on systematically managing forests as an economic driver and contributing to healthy environments for the population.
This conference was part of the virtual cycle of #Biodirectos Meetings that was launched by the Ministry and broadcast live and simultaneously on the various social media channels of the Biodirectos Foundation. In her speech, the Minister emphasized the many benefits that forests provide; It absorbs carbon dioxide, strengthens the soil, generates jobs, clean air, food and water … in short: a healthy forest means healthy people.
Rural versus urban areas in Spain
Ribera noted that forests are helping to restore the shattered balance between “rural and urban Spain”. Great challenge at a time of climate change. “We need to encourage forests to be well looked after and managed because the livelihoods of millions of people around the world depend on them,” said Ribera.
Improving systems for the use of forest products is an outstanding issue in Spain. The current government should implement forest fire prevention measures and develop a new national forest strategy. Ribera called for the amendment and modernization of forest inventory, a tradition with which Spain has years of experience.
Ribera’s speech was followed by a round table meeting, in which, in addition to the Director of the European Forest Institute, Marc Ballahy, a number of well-known Spanish specialists in the field of forestry and biodiversity participated.
It is confirmed that Spain has about 18 million hectares of forest, with exceptional biodiversity and great diversity. Most forests have added value in rural areas and provide timber, fruit, resin, cork and mushrooms.
Many beautiful and mature indigenous forests have developed without human intervention in the “jewels of nature” and are of great importance to the biodiversity of Spain. It is also remarkable that Spain has many urban forests, which perform a “exceptional function” that benefits millions of citizens. It makes sense to be careful in managing forests, to change the tide and thus improve biodiversity.
Fossil fuels are catastrophic
According to Mark Ballhey, of the European Forest Institute, the loss of biodiversity and the epidemic are the result of an economy based on fossil fuels. He pushed for the creation of a new paradigm where life and consumption were no longer the driving force in an economy that puts natural and social capital at the top.
Another expert found that Spain is a “heavily deforested” country, with nearly 60% of its land comprised of mountainous lands or forests, but only 35% of which is “true forest”. However, Spain is the country that contributes the most to biodiversity within the European Union.
This means that there is an urgent need to increase and restore the existing forest area. This can be achieved through the use of large-scale livestock farming – small groups of animals over vast stretches of land – and the use of natural, renewable resources and rural revitalization so that people continue to live in the mountains.
Find a balance
FSC Spain has been working on “adaptive forest management” for more than three years and has developed tools for forests and forest owners to integrate into their daily work, measure the impacts of climate change in their forests and implement measures and actions to make them more resilient. The Spanish organization PEFC, which is also committed to forest management and certification, sees a “lack of knowledge” about forests and the people who care for them. As a result, “nature is imbalanced with humans, and this is costly.” The gap between rural and urban forests must be bridged to secure a “healthy and well-managed” forest future.