“Showing society the entire process of developing a PES scheme is the starting point”
Can you describe the importance of forests in your region (meaning economically and socially)?
Catalonia is located in the north-eastern part of Spain. It is a forested region with 64% of its territory (i.e. around 2 Mha) corresponding to forest and other wildland areas, some of them open forests, scrublands and grasslands. Most Catalan forests are privately owned, still young and often too dense. The heterogeneity and low economic profitability together with the small extension of the forest ownerships in Catalonia (97.52% of the forest owners have less than 50 ha) and other factors lead to a lack of management in most of the forests (the estimated annual increment of forest growing stock is 3.1 m3/ha/year and the annual harvests remain at 0.7 m3/ha/year, which results in an average harvesting intensity ranging from 20 to 25%). The lack of economic profitability of Catalonian forests contrasts with the environmental and social importance of such forests, with the mushroom picking activity being one of the most appreciated uses of the forests.
Which are the paths to improve on FES and how are you preparing/doing them?
The most crucial point for improving forest ecosystem services is the increased awareness of society as a whole of the role of forest lands in providing ecosystem services that are relevant for their daily activity. In this sense we selected water provision as a good that is very valued in Mediterranean areas for its scarcity, as water quantity and quality are dependent on the forest area and the forest management being implemented. The selection of a pilot case study (innovation case) is expected to be the best way to disseminate the benefits of the payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme.
How important is it for policy makers, governments, business and wider society to understand the benefits forests can provide us?
The Mediterranean forests are characterised by providing a set of products and services that are valued by the society but that remain out of the market. The PES is envisaged as a tool for such integration. However, we lack successful examples of PES application in our region. In this sense, showing society the entire process of developing a PES scheme is expected to be the starting point for softly incorporating forest ecosystem services into forest planning and forest management.
Can you describe as simply as possible what is your organisation’s role in SINCERE and why did you get involved in the project?
There will be two partners in the Catalonian region. CPF- Centre de la Propietat Forestal (Private Forest Ownership Centre) is an innovation action local partner, in direct contact with the stakeholders, while CTFC-Consorci – Centre de Tecnologia I Ciència Forestal de Catalunya (Forest Science Centre of Catalonia) will scientifically support the implementation of the innovation action.