Esterri de Cardós Valley, Spain

Fundació Projecte Boscos de Muntanya run volunteering conservation work holidays in the mountains of Spain to manage and maintain the local forests.

Humans have been living in the Pyrenees for 9000 years. They shaped the landscape in the mountains and nowadays they still depend on it for the mountain economy (ski resorts, hiking and outdoor activities and tourism). Mountain forests in the Catalan Pyrenees also supply water for over 7 million people and are essential to prevent erosion and flooding. Threats include deforestation and abandoned farms causing thick undergrowth which is detrimental to the breeding of some birds and animals.  The project work carries out thinning of dense stands of native Pinus uncinata forests, reforesting other areas of Pinus which are degraded, opening up grasslands and selective thinning of broad-leaved tree woodlands, to enhance the habitats of capercaillie and brown bear. Working with rangers, the project also works with farmers to prevent livestock damage. The project will engage 200 volunteers in pasture restoration, 200 volunteers in forest restoration, and 200 volunteers in restoring 1200m of trails

The Update

Despite the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic, this project has been able to complete with excellent results all round. A reduced number of volunteers (due to the pandemic restrictions) managed to fulfil all the project objectives through their dedication and hard work.

Eight weeks of conservation volunteer camps were held during the summer of 2020 and these successfully:
– Restored and improved 1.2 hectares of open grasslands (through invasive species removal) for the charismatic brown bear.
– Restored and improved 0.8 hectares of mountain forests through selective thinning to enhance broad leaf trees.
– Maintained and restored 1km of path through stone and vegetation removal.

As a result, this project was a huge success in Esterri de Cardós Valley; its many articles in local papers and engagement on social media illustrate this. We wish it every success for its future!

Image: Esterri de Cardós