Fruits for Bears, Spain

The mission of Fondo para la Protección de los Animales Salvajes (FAPAS) is the conservation of Cantabrian Mountain ecosystems, with a particular focus on the protection of threatened fauna in the area.

Brown bears in the Cantabrian mountains of northern Spain are endangered, and the current numbers are not enough to maintain a healthy population. The forests they live in do not provide enough food for them, and the bears are heading to lower land in search of food. The main aim of this project is to improve the habitat for the bears, ensuring wild fruits are available for the bears year round. This will be achieved by:

  • Planting 1000 fruit trees including cherry, chestnut and rowan, to create a new forest which will provide 10,500kg of fruit annually
  • Installing 150 beehives, housing 7.5 million bees in the forest, to pollinate fruit trees over 56km²
  • Using the honey produced to increase awareness of bear conservation with the many outdoor enthusiasts and locals who hike, bike and climb in the area

The Update

This project was completed in August 2014.  In the winter of 2013/14, 1000 fruit trees, mainly cherry and chestnut were planted in the Municipality of Teverga, in critical areas where brown bears are known to frequent.   150 hives have been installed to improve pollination of fruit trees which are important to the bears, and which have produced less fruit in recent years due to declining bee populations.  Some of the swarms did not survive the particularly cold winter of 2013/14, but were replaced in the spring.  Finally, an interactive exhibition was installed in the ‘Parque de la Prehistoria’ in Teverga, one of the most important facilities in Northern Spain for learning about nature.   It is estimated that 8000-10,000 people visit the facility each year and so will learn about the ecology and importance of the local bear population.

Image: Brown Bears in Spain