Biesca Ingeniería

Certified Asturian forests preserve watershed and the native brown bear habitat

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Asturias is home to the native Cantabrian brown bear – an endangered species in the Spanish Red List. To help supplement their diet, Biesca planted fruit trees as part of its forest management plan. The fruit trees serve as an additional food source for the brown bears, improving their habitat and help prevent the bears from hunting for food in areas vulnerable for poaching. This is part of measures by Biescas and other landowners, supported by Fund for the Protection of Wildlife, are implementing to prevent bear poaching in the area.

This certificate also verifies how Biesca’s efforts contributed to the protection of the watershed through responsible forest management. Forests help filter, regulate, absorb and release water. As the forests are managed in a good way the watershed maintains its capacity to purify and regulate water flow, which is crucial for the communities within and surrounding the forests.

The certified Asturian forests that span across an area of 716 hectares are small or low intensity managed forests, acting as a significant carbon sink. These forests also purify the air, improving the air quality in the central areas of Asturias. Payments for ecosystem services in these forests may be significant as it provides extra incentive to manage forests sustainably.

“We are seeing increasing demand for Ecosystem Services Procedure in Spain as well as other countries because forest managers are realising how these tools allow them to demonstrate what they are already doing, which is part of their FSC certified responsible management plan. Hence, forest managers add Ecosystem Services Procedure to their scope which attracts additional funding to manage forests sustainably,” says audit leader, Mateo Cariño Fraisse, who is also NEPCon Land Use Programme Manager.

In his view, Mateo believes that most FSC certified forests will soon start using FSC Ecosystem Services tools to demonstrate specific impacts on well-managed forests. He explains how ecosystem services can contribute to biodiversity loss, water scarcity and climate change.

“It is gratifying to see FSC coming up with solutions for a multi-angle scenario. We witnessed this during the audit for Biesca where we learnt how different interests and conflicts can co-exist in one territory. In this case, Biesca found the balance between human-wildlife conflict and the need to increase income.”

“Biesca pioneers in the initiative aimed at helping smallholders and low intensity managed forests to reap benefits from their efforts in maintaining watersheds and helping to fight climate change,” says Mateo.

FSC launched the Ecosystem Services Procedures in May 2018, aimed at creating incentives for the preservation of ecosystem services through responsibly managed forests. This is the first of its kind forest certification that verifies the impacts of responsibly managed forests on carbon sequestration, conservation of biodiversity, watershed services, soil conservation, and recreational services. The certificate issued to Biesca is the first of this type for NEPCon in Europe.

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