CAMPOO DE YUSO: THE FIRST SCHOOL OF MOUNTAIN MANAGEMENT

A leading project at European level aimed at creating employment while training young people in specialized forest management through the integrated management of the Cantabrian Forests. The Town Council of Campoo de Yuso promoted a project addressed at combining the conservation of its forests with the promotion of sustainable employment in rural areas: the “School of Advanced Management of the Mountain: Integrated Management of Cantabrian Forests”, a novel project at European level. This project concentrated, in a single initiative, the different experiences of advanced forest management, which in recent decades have been implemented along the Cantabrian Mountains and in the Atlantic Europe.

Through the implementation of a practical School, and focusing on a clearly intuitive subject, it demonstrated that it is feasible to apply in a modern daily forest management measures of high standard of conservation. The actions were undertaken in all kind of Cantabrian forests (beech forests, oak forests, pine forests,..) and in all its stages (regenerated, wild mountain, high mountain…) providing adapted parameters of sustainable management and improvement of its quality as enriching repopulations, improving the maturity of beech forests, controlling densities, etc.

One of the main objectives has been to train unemployed forest workers (from all training levels) in conventional forest management (use of machinery, reforestation, closures, etc.), with the added value of turning them into innovative forest managers and give the basis to become future entrepreneurs in the sector. Among the star measures of the project, we can find the planting of a yew next to each parish church of Campoo de Yuso. This allowed the recovering of this ancient tradition, known since the times of the Celts, in which the yew is considered as a sacred tree.

Some actions implemented:

  • Placement of nest boxes for the wildlife in public buildings in the villages of Campoo de Yuso in order to raise awareness among the inhabitants and bring nature closer to daily life.
  • Release of yew trees and species of interest such as oaks, cherry trees and apple trees in order to provide refuge and diversity to our forests.

This management in forest biodiversity tried to contribute to the advanced management of the Cantabrian forest as CO2 sinks while increasing forest biodiversity. At the same time, this active management allows to renew the biological connectivity of the southern slope of the Cantabrian Mountains through the improvement of the quality and maturity of natural forests and their endangered fauna. Furthermore, it is worth to mention the creation of high biological quality between SCI and SPA spaces of the Natura 2000 Network.

The Counselor for the Rural Environment of the Government of Cantabria, Mr. Jesús Oria, carefully contemplates the exhibition of nest boxes and refuge boxes manufactured within the Project and transferred to the Ornithological Center of the Ebro Reservoir.

PROJECT ACTIONS

MICROCLEARINGS FOR YEW TREES

Yew is a primitive, dioecious and very resistant specie. However, the structural impoverishment of the mountains, the anthropic differential pressure for centuries, the excessive shade together with a competitive aggressive temperament of the beeches, hinder the survival even of an extremophile tree such as the yew. In stations with North orientation or with strong concurrence of beech or similar taxa, serious problems of persistence, recruitment and conservation of the species are generated.

Before and after

Action: Measure of competition control of woody plants and elimination of excess shading. Trees whose branching competes or interferes directly with the yew canopy are controlled, in addition to opening a fan light window in the SE-S-SW direction.

Results:

The improvement of luminosity and vitality is observed.

The increase in insolation means the increase in the production of pollen and fruits.

Estimated age: 360-710 years. According to UK growth charts.

YEWS IN CHURCHES

Action: Planting of yew trees in every church in the villages of Campoo de Yuso. Planting in individual fences in order to recover the ancestral tradition of associating this mythical tree with the sacred and religious temples.

PROTECTION FENCES OF YEWS “CABBAGE” AND YEWS “BROOM”

In addition to competing against other trees, in the forests the yews compete against roe deer and other herbivores. The roe deer debarks and destroys until they are left with a topiary effect, resembling small cabbages or hives. They eventually die from these direct damages.

Action: Small wild yews are protected with small individual fences of stake and mesh, to get them to reach the critical height that defends them from predators, leaving them out of their teeth, and grow, becoming adults.

INSTALLATION OF NEST BOXES AND SHELTER BOXES

In today’s forests, there are very few gaps for wildlife.

Action: Installing of nest boxes for birds and shelter boxes for bats in order to boost biodiversity.

STUDY OF DEAD WOOD IN THE FOREST

Action: Systematic study using transects in all forest ecosystems of Campoo de Yuso. It has been estimated the m3 / ha of dead wood in pine forests, oak groves, holly, beech forests, oak pastures and others. Serious structural damage has been detected in forests due to excessive anthropic pressure and a shortage of dead wood.

RECOVERY OF THE RIPARIAN FOREST IN THE EBRO RESERVOIR

Action: Systematic conversion of abandoned land adjacent to the Ebro Reservoir into forests, recovering this heritage of abandoned public lands.

PROMOTION OF RURAL YOUTH EMPLOYMENT

Creation of employment in Campoo de Yuso.

Actions: Training of young people from Campoo de Yuso in the modern management of their mountains. Creation of critical awareness of the need to actively improve forests by acting carefully but systematic.

RECOVER DEGRADED LAND

Actions: Identify and convert degraded, barren and ruderal lands from black dots into green dots, improving the landscape. Waste removal, clearing and reforesting.

EXPLAIN HOW AND WHY TO REACH A GOOD MANAGEMENT

Nothing can be considered as known if you do not know how to explain it.

Actions: Throughout the project there have been visits by entities, technicians and professionals interested in the new initiative. Visits of Spanish Television, Master of Natural Spaces of the University of Salamanca, General Directorate of Natural Environment of Cantabria, among others.

INTEGRATED NEST BOXES

Actions: Control of the proliferation of beech trees in oak groves and trees competing with yews, rowans or wild apple trees. Use of stumps or ringed trees to build nest boxes and shelter boxes integrated into the trunks. Increasing of the availability of refuge for threatened forest species.

AMPHIBIAN RAMPS

Drinking troughs, pylons and Canadian gates become death traps for microfauna.

Action: To build a simple exit/inlet ramp, so that they can escape or use the water point as a breeding ground. Taking advantage of the occasion, numerous troughs have been repaired (Photo below right).

CONTROL WOODY COMPETITORS WITH SCARCE TREES

Action: Release of scarce or rare trees that enrich and bring diversity to the mass. Direct control or through progressive decay by ringing trees that compete for space in the forest with rare or threatened species: yews, rowans, fleshy fruit trees, wild apple trees, oaks isolated in beech forests.

This project was promoted by Campoo de Yuso Town Hall

With the support of :

Gobierno de Cantabria
SEO Birdlife
Fundación Naturaleza y Hombre
Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi
FAPAS
Fundación Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente
Asociación MURUNA
Real Academia de Ingeniería
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Fundación Oso Pardo

CAMPOO DE YUSO: THE FIRST SCHOOL OF MOUNTAIN MANAGEMENT
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