Drive to save old trees from ending up as firewood
Biologists in Solsonès county in central Catalonia aim to raise awareness among landowners of the value of mature woodland
Solsonès in the heart of Catalonia is a county that boasts lots of woodland, but due to years of "poor forest management," the environmental value of the trees is often underappreciated.
Now, a group of naturalists and biologists want to put that right by raising awareness among woodland owners of the value of the trees on their land, beyond their potential as firewood.
An example is the role that cavities in mature trees play in providing shelter and safe places for the reproduction of a host of different species of mammals, insects and plants.
"An old tree is like a Romanesque church"
David Guixé, from the Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), says that old trees should be given the same worth as we give to old buildings.
"Helping a Romanesque church is the same thing as helping a tree that is 500 years old, even if it is dead," Guixé told the Catalan News Agency.
Solsonès is an area that still has lots of oak trees that have grown up over generations but biologists claim they are now in danger due to indiscriminate felling for firewood.
Guixé says that it is increasingly difficult to find adult oaks in the county. "You come across 50-hectare woods in which it is hard to find a single large tree," he says.
The researcher even warns about cutting down dead trees, "because a dead tree can support many species of fungi, moss and invertebrates."
Most of these old trees are not protected by current legislation, and the responsibility for conserving them falls to woodland owners, land managers, and local authorities.