The contribution of chestnut orchard recovery projects for effective area-based conservation: Two cases in Asturias (North-West Spain)

2018.10.30

  • SUBMITTED ORGANISATION

  • ECOAGRASOC. Higher Polytechnic School. University of Santiago de Compostela; GIS-Forest Research Group, Universidad de Oviedo; Department of Geography, Swansea University

  • DATE OF SUBMISSION

  • 30/10/2018

  • REGION

  • Southern Europe

  • COUNTRY

  • Spain (Asturias)

  • SUMMARY

  • Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (SEPLS) frequently illustrate potential synergies between socio-economic development, multifunctional use of land, preservation of traditional knowledge, enhancement of ecosystem services and the conservation of biodiversity. As such, efforts for the conservation and enhancement of SEPLS can be considered aligned with “Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures” (OECM), as defined by Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, established by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be attained by 2020. The utility of such areas and practices underlines the importance of acknowledging diversity in approaches to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as the integration of communities through local initiatives. Despite this fact, many SEPLS lack specific protection frameworks or measures, as they are sometimes difficult to define clearly as nature conservation entities. However, other measures related to the enhancement of socio-ecological systems themselves can be useful for the maintenance of their nature conservation capacity. In this study we present a project for the recovery of sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) orchards in two public forests, Caranga Baxu and Villamorei, in the region of Asturias (North-West Spain). The project was promoted by the regional administration (Principado de Asturias), and its aim was to preserve in situ endangered native cultivars selected by local growers, and to protect the associated landscape, ethnographic and cultural values. In many cases, the chestnut orchards show a noticeable abandonment process, so the conservation efforts involved actions directed to recover the functionality of the systems. To do so, traditional knowledge was combined with modern techniques for operations like reclamation of trees (selection, pruning, grafting, shaping); conservation and maintenance of the orchard (shrub clearing, removal of ill trees); and the reconstruction of traditional stone structures (corros) used for chestnut fruit storage. In addition, efforts were made in the dissemination of knowledge regarding the project among the communities. Chestnut orchards are interesting examples of SEPLS, as they are normally forests cultivated and managed by local owners, who benefit from a range of goods and services, including chestnut fruits, wood, and agro-forestry grazing areas. Their strategic position in the landscape often allows for local climate regulation, erosion protection and water purification. Their structural and functional characteristics host high levels of biodiversity, and are important for the conservation of endangered species like the brown bear (Ursus arctos Linn.). Consequently, recovery actions for maintaining the structure and function of chestnut orchards play an important role in the scope of OECMs.

  • KEYWORD

  • Area-based conservation; chestnut orchards; Social-Ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (SEPLS); rural development

  • AUTHOR

  • Díaz-Varela, Emilio R., University of Santiago de Compostela; Álvarez-Álvarez, Pedro, Universidad de Oviedo; Roces-Díaz, José V., Universidad de Oviedo/Swansea University; Rodríguez-Morales, Beatriz., University of Santiago de Compostela

Summary Sheet

The summary sheet for this case study is available here.

Background

Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (SEPLS) frequently illustrate the capacity to establish synergies among the enhancement of ecosystem services, conservation of biodiversity, multi-stakeholder socio-economic development, multifunctional use of land within the carrying capacity and resilience of the environment, as well as the preservation of traditional knowledge, local traditions and culture (eds. Belàir et al. 2010; Okayasu & Matsumoto 2013). This capacity reveals the potential of SEPLS to be an integrated part of efforts oriented towards biodiversity conservation. In this sense, Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, established by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be attained by 2020, states: “By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape”. While the role of protected areas formally defined by different levels of administration is clear, discussions regarding the role of “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs) are still taking place. The inclusion of the latter was an effort to acknowledge the contribution of areas not legally designated as protected areas to effective conservation (Laffoley et al. 2017). Further developments of the concept were recognized to help to avoid overlooking “the diversity of ways of conserving and sustainable use of biodiversity, including by Indigenous peoples and local communities” (McKinnon et al. 2015). This underlines the importance of acknowledging diversity in approaches for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and the integration of communities through local initiatives. Finally, the ongoing development of “guidelines for recognising and reporting Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures” (IUCN-WCPA 2018, p.16) provides a provisional definition of an OECM as “a geographically defined space, not recognised as a protected area, which is governed and managed over the long-term in ways that deliver the effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem services and cultural and spiritual values”. SEPLS in many instances fit within this definition without being subjected to specific protection frameworks or measures, as they are sometimes difficult to clearly define as nature conservation entities. However, other measures related to enhancement of the socio-ecological system itself and the improvement of the rural environment, might provide the maintenance of practices that lead to conservation of biodiversity.

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