Forest for the future in the Basque country (Fundación Lurgaia)

Forests occupy one third of the emerged surface of our planet. They are a huge reserve of biodiversity, providing habitats to diverse organisms. In fact, most of the described species of the world live in forests, especially in the tropical forests.

We depend on forests for our survival, from the air we breathe to the wood we use. In addition of providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change.

In some areas of the world forests are declining very fast, mainly because of human land use for cattle ranching and for farming of monospecific crops. Between 1990 and 2015, the world lost forest of an area the size of South Africa.

In the Basque Country, in the North of Spain, the climate is wet and rainy, the landscape is green and the hills are covered by woods. Millions of trees occupy most of the land. However, mature and large forests are almost absent. Most of the land is occupied by plantations of rapid-growth species, mainly pines and eucalyptus.

Although the landscape is full of trees, the situation of the forests in the Basque Country is very far from good. More than 90% of the area originally occupied by the most widespread tree species, the oak, has been lost. And this has dramatically changed the landscape. The passing of seasons is almost unnoticed and the autumn, when the forests present wonderful colours in temperate latitudes, is unperceived in the evergreen fields of pines and eucalyptus.

Fundación Lurgaia, by means of the Quercus program, aims to recover part of the lost forests and, hence, their value for biodiversity as well as the goods and services they provide to the people.

In the Basque Country most of the land is private. Because of this, in order to gain access to land management, Fundación Lurgaia contact the land owners and, when possible, come to voluntary agreements with them. This way of land management for conservation purposes is known as land stewardship and was first applied in the United States. In some cases, when land is public, the agreements are signed with public bodies.

All the initiatives of the Quercus program are based on several principles:

  • The main objective is the conservation and improvement of the environment by means of forest restoration. 
  • Autochthonous species and local seeds and seedlings are always used. All the activities are open to the public and carried out by volunteers; Fundación Lurgaia believes in social responsibility in nature conservation. Fundación Lurgaia looks for the involvement and engagement of all the stakeholders: citizens, land owners, public bodies, private companies…

By means of the Quercus Program Fundación Lurgaia currently manages more than 150 pieces of land. Most of them are located in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, and are home to several species of conservation concern, like the European mink, one of vertebrate species at higher risk of extinction in the world, and the Iberian frog, endemic to some areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Another species of interest, present in this area, is the European chain fern, which forms spectacular tapestries in highly humid environments.

Forests generate environments of unique beauty. They have been scenes of mysterious stories and legends, and home of spirits and fictional beings. Forests create mystery, magic and myths. Hence, they hold part of the cultural heritage of humans. With the Quercus Program, Fundación Lurgaia is contributing to enhance the situation of the forests in the Basque Country, creating the forests for the future.

By collaborating with Fundación Lurgaia in the Quercus Program you would contribute to the recovery of the biodiversity, the watershed protection, the prevention of soil erosion and the mitigation of climate change. In summary, to the rehabilitation of the services provided by these ecosystems. The donations obtained by the inscription in the Ecosystem Services Partnership regional conference 2018 in San Sebastian will be devoted to different actions to be carried out in the land managed by Fundación Lurgaia.

Participants could donate to the Fundación Lurgaia through our registration program as part of our CO2 compensation program. Aim of this program was to offset our communal CO2 emissions at least to a certain extend.

participants registration
 participants registration