Main authors: Cecilia De Ita, Lindsay C. Stringer, Luuk Fleskens, Diana Sietz
Contributing authors: Ioannis K. Tsanis, Ioannis N. Daliakopoulos, Ioanna Panagea, Michalakis Christoforou, Giovanni Quaranta, Rosanna Salvia, Sandra Valente, Cristina Ribeiro, Cláudia Fernandes, Oscar González-Pelayo, Jan Jacob Keizer, Alejandro Valdecantos, V. Ramón Vallejo and Susana Bautista
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: De Ita, C. et al. (2017) Report on multi-scale evaluation of CASCADE's management principles and grazing model scenarios with stakeholders and policy makers. CASCADE Project Deliverable 8.3 69 pp


One workshop was held in Spain covering both study sites. It involved 14 stakeholders, representing environmental NGOs, researchers, land managers and governmental institutions (Figure 1). Government representatives worked in conservation, forestry and agricultural areas. The Local Forest Association was invited, however they did not attend.

D8.3 fig14

Discussions focused on forest fires and land abandonment principles. Land tenure in the study sites is usually held by small proprietaries that do not usually live within the area. Land management is designed and carried out by governmental institutions. Therefore, the workshop focused on bringing together stakeholders representing those institutions relevant to identify the feasibility and barriers of the principles.

Comments on the principles for the land abandonment context

The CASCADE team explained to the workshop participants that principles were elaborated mostly for land managers rather than owners. Stakeholders mentioned that implementation of the principles requires cooperation and legal frameworks, allowing land managers to apply the principles on private property.

For descriptions of the principles discussed here, see »Guidelines for land managers: the land abandonment context_EN

Most stakeholders in Spain agreed with most of the land abandonment principles. However, they stated that they could not consider them as guidelines to prevent land abandonment as the principles do not consider a holistic approach to socio-environmental development, taking into account aspects such as social integration, forest use regulation or burning of crop residues. Stakeholders mentioned that a multitude of factors are causing land abandonment in the area, which in turn is linked with an increased risk of forest fires. Furthermore, other socio-economic issues in the region (such as land tenure structures and processes), decrease the feasibility of implementing the principles. Therefore, stakeholders considered that managing these areas is highly complex, from both administrative and spatial perspectives. Stakeholders also mentioned various barriers to implement the principles (Table 1) linked to the land abandonment context.

Table 1. Causes and consequences of land abandonment mentioned by stakeholders.

Causes  - Low profitability of land and produce.
- Lack of or deficient infrastructure.
- Search for better quality of life in the urban areas.
Barriers for the implementation of land abandonment principles - Smallholdings land tenure (mostly private in many parts of the Valencia Region).
- Contrasting management goals among private vs common interest.
- Lack of clear norms of intervening in private lands.
- Large amounts of funding and subsidies are needed.
- Labour intensive, there is not enough labour as the area is mountainous.

Stakeholders also expressed disagreement with the terminology used in some of the principles, although not with the principle per se. Some of the stakeholders suggested how they could be clarified. For example, an NGO representative suggested using the term “cropland or agriculture abandonment” instead of “land abandonment” in general, as most land abandonment affects croplands.

Comments on the principles for the forest fire context

For descriptions of the principles discussed here, see »Guidelines for land managers: the forest fire context.

In Spain, the forest fire principles were clear and stakeholders agreed with them in their context, however they were also perceived as too general (Table 2). In response to principle 2.1 “Avoid afforestation with single or flammable species” the representative of the wildlife department disagreed with not considering species for restoration, due to them being flammable. Some species like Juniperus spp. are highly flammable but they are key species in certain ecosystems. Equally, clarifications were also suggested regarding terminology that seemed too broad to be meaningful to stakeholders. For example, in “sustain and increase diversity of endemic plants” (principle 2), the term “endemic” was considered potentially confusing by the Department of Wildlife representative, as most endemic species nowadays are characteristic of degraded environments. The suggestion was therefore made to refer to vegetation as “Indigenous”. Furthermore, referring to vegetation as “fuel” was perceived to be a broad and potentially confusing use of the term, as it was recognised that although some vegetation can act as fuel in a fire situation, many plant species also have an ecological role.

Between the recommendations under principle 3 “Sufficient soil cover shortly after a fire reduces risk of soil erosion”, are mulching and maintaining soil cover in fuel breaks. Stakeholders were dubious about the benefits of mulching due to the scarcity of management experiences, although they recognised the potential benefit of this technique to avoid land degradation. The lack of experience in using or being in contact with this technique meant that they were uncertain about its costs and benefits, as there are few experiences about mulching application as a management technique and these are restricted to small areas especially after forest fires. Different comments were made about these experiences and the type of mulch (hay or forest residues) but there was consensus about the beneficial role of this technique as an emergency land restoration action. Stakeholders also asked the CASCADE team about cheaper options than mulching, and cropland residues were mentioned by stakeholders in this regard. Finally, stakeholders recognised that the term “firebreak” (cortafuegos) is an outdated technical term that fails to reflect the ecological configuration of the area, which presents an array of agricultural and forested patches, rather than a continuous of forest with non-forested sections in a heterogeneous mosaic landscape. Therefore, they felt a holistic view of the forest and the measure was needed for fire management.

In Spain the lack of technical support or information were not seen as a barriers to implementing the principles. Stakeholders however recognised that land tenure is an obstacle both for coordination and implementation of management measures. The small holding sizes of the properties means that there is a multitude of stakeholders that need to agree if measures are going to be taken. In some cases, the owners are not identified by land managers, or it is difficult to contact them, therefore measures cannot be carried out easily as it would involve interfering with private land. This issue is amplified in the case of land abandonment, and in some cases there is opposition to governmental intervention by forest owners. Stakeholders also considered that the needs of the population should be a priority to prevent land abandonment, because if there is a lack of schools, jobs or medical services, land abandonment will continue in the region. They proposed that the management principles for land abandonment should consider social participation in a bottom-up approach, as it is currently happening in the region after large forest fires. Equally, plans should include climate change projections in designing management treatments (prioritization of areas, selection of species and so on). Stakeholders also commented that the role of and impacts on the area’s fauna should be included too.

Table 2. Agreements and disagreements with the forest fire principles by Spanish stakeholders. Y = agreement

PRINCIPLE Agree/Disagree Barriers    
1. Minimizing fuel load and connectivity reduce fire risk  Y  Y  Y - Land tenure in small holdings - Large funding needed as there is governmental responsibility - Land abandonment
- Lack of social integration
2. Diversity of species reduces flammability, as well as outbreaks of pests, and thus leads to reduced fire hazards. In particular, promoting re-sprouters facilitates recovery after fire. Y   Y   - Low profitability and lack of alternative profitable activities - Lack of communication and organisation between forest owners
3. Sufficient soil cover shortly after a fire reduce risk of soil erosion Y   Y     - Loss of traditional land management knowledge

Note: For full references to papers quoted in this article see

» References

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