Over 10 million hectares of land in Spain are degraded due to climate change, urban migration, aging rural demography and damaging wildfires.
In past centuries Castilla y León, like other areas of northern Spain, was irreversibly affected by a ‘cultura de fuego’ (fire culture). This refers to a practice where landowners used to burn thousands of hectares of bush and scrub to create grazing pastures for livestock like cows and sheep. Thanks to regional and national government’s efforts, much have changed, and Spain has already made strides at restoring forest cover between 1940-1960 and again during the 1990s.
Things have stalled since then given two simultaneous trends: funding for reforestation and forest management have decreased while rural depopulation, coupled with land abandonment, has increased. What budget is left is typically dedicated to fire emergency response rather than reforestation.
Together with our partners, Land Life Company works to mitigate future forest fire risk by planting a mix of trees that have been proven to improve a forest’s resilience to fire. Once planting is done, we install an early warning detection system that uses satellite imagery to identify high-risk areas. In coordination with the regional government, Land Life Company ensures prevention measures are taken, like removing weeds in the first three years when the risk is highest.
To help bolster the local economy, seedlings are predominantly sourced from 3 local nurseries, who raise approximately 5 million seedlings per year. Local contractors carry out planting with 20 or more years’ experience and who employ local staff. A typical 100-hectare planting in Castilla y León creates 200 days of individual employment for planting as well as the hiring of 3-4 local excavators from nearby villages.
Land Life Company also works in protected natural areas, in Fuentes Carrionas y Fuente Cobre Montaña Palentina natural park, to restore animal habitats and create migration corridors.
In terms of the permanence of our reforestation efforts, the local government (Junta de Castilla y León) have mandates and laws to protect the trees indefinitely.