Cesefor concludes the conservation actions of Cantabrian yews in León

In recent months, Cesefor, with the collaboration of the Region Castilla y León, within the framework of the Life Baccata project, has carried out a series of actions to improve the state of conservation of Cantabrian yews in the province of León.

The aim of the actions has been to guarantee the conservation of three yew woods in the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) of the Natura 2000 Network "Sierra de los Ancares", in the province of León, in an area of 19.69 ha. These actions adopted suitable forest management that maintained the structure and composition of small stands or coppice in which the yew is dominant or co-dominant. They also promoted the conservation of seed dispersing fauna and encouraged natural regeneration, especially in areas between isolated and nearby stands in order to reduce habitat fragmentation.

These active conservation measures are the result of previous work to characterise the habitat and analyse the main problems that put its conservation at risk. These measures were carried out by a wide range of experts, who have proposed the most appropriate solutions  to conserve and guarantee the future of this characteristic habitat.

In this way, forestry treatments have been aimed at reducing the density of species competing with the yew for resources. In this sense, the actions have reduced the competition for light and have favoured not only the development of the yew, but also, through the opening of holes in the canopy, the regeneration of both this and other species of interest (rowan, mustard, holly, etc.).

Caption: Clearing of brushwood in order to minimise the risk of fire and to facilitate the development and expansion of the yews and the species that share their habitat, carried out within the framework of this LIFE project.
Furthermore, bearing in mind that the main threat posed by the "Sierra de Los Ancares" SAC is forest fires, preventive measures have been adopted consisting of clearing brushwood on 5.3 ha of land nera the yew wood in order to break the continuity of the fuel and minimise its vulnerability as it conditions the spread of forest fires.

Life Baccata project

The yew tree has been suffering from a series of threats that directly influence the biodiversity of the areas it occupies. These threats have originated over the years and are of various kinds: fires, cuts, construction of infrastructure, fragmentation and lack of connection between these natural areas or the impact of climate change. Individually or jointly, these threats have endangered the survival of this species, its habitat and the biodiversity it contains; therefore, it is necessary to act and guarantee its future in a sustainable manner.

The LIFE BACCATA project will apply the necessary forest protection and management measures to promote the improvement of the state of conservation and restoration of the yew tree and woods encouraging their natural regeneration together with that of the species of flora and fauna that inhabit them, also contributing to halting the loss of biodiversity.

This project is co-financed by the European Union's LIFE programme, and is being carried out between 2016 and 2020 in fifteen sites in the Natura 2000 network in the Cantabrian mountain range belonging to Galicia, Castilla y Leon and the Pais Vasco. The University of Santiago de Compostela participates as coordinator of the project and the Region Castilla y León, Cesefor, Hazi and the Tragsa Group as partners.