Building a forest landscape resilient to climate change in Els Ports Nature Park

In Els Ports Natural Park, the abandonment forestry has given rise to young and very homogeneous forests of Pinus nigra, P. halepensis and Quercus ilex, which are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The objective of this action is to create a landscape resilient to climate change, consisting of different types of vegetation and forests at different stages of development. By recovering basic ecological processes (using conservation forestry, prescribed burns and herbivores), a heterogeneous mosaic will be created, comprised of a mixture of mature stands, stands in different stages of development and open areas, which, as a whole, will be more resilient to drought and fire.

Landscape mosaic in Els Ports Nature Park, current state.

Landscape mosaic in Els Ports Nature Park, expected state.

Implemented actions:

1. Informative and participatory process

As a first step, a sector of the nature park with its own landscape entity was selected. Forest owners in the area were identified, including 20 properties, which make up 16,413 hectares in total.

Thanks to a participatory process, 11 forest owners (5 of public estates and 6 private estates) showed willingness to participate in the project, covering an area of 9,213 hectares.

2. Development of planning tools

To make the intervention feasible on such a large scale, three complementary tools were planned: silviculture, prescribed burns, and promotion of herbivory. For this purpose, a forest management plan, a prescribed burns plan, and a herbivore management plan have been drafted for each of the properties participating in the project.

3. Design of demonstrative actions

Once the planning instruments for each property have been approved, demonstrative works can be addressed. Their design will incorporate the criteria of good practices defined in action C2 and will consist of the following:

  • Increase in forest species diversity through the opening of clearings for valuable specimens and the generation of big sized deadwood. It is expected to increase the presence of species such as Acer opalus, Quercus faginea, Ilex aquifolium, or Taxus baccata.
  • Increase in structural heterogeneity by opening clearings in the forest through selective thinning and clearings. It will promote colonisation by herbaceous species and the biodiversity associated with them.
  • Maintenance of open areas through the promotion of extensive livestock farming, fostering agreements between local livestock farmers and forest owners.

Modelling of the different planned actions.