High-precision technology to improve conservation of Cantabrian yew woodlands

Thanks to this study, the dimensions, structure, and state of conservation of the European yew can be calculated in the yew woods of Tosande, in the Natural Park of Fuentes Carrionas and Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina. It will also enable to study the yew tree of San Cristobal de Valdueza, located in the region of El Bierzo.

Under the framework of LIFE BACCATA (LIFE15 NAT/ES/000790), "Conservation and restoration of Taxus baccata woods (9580*) in the Cantabrian Mountains", an action plan has been carried out. It aims to improve the characterization and monitoring of the conservation plans of the yew woods of Tosande, integrated in the Natural Park of Fuentes Carrionas and Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina, and the yew of San Cristóbal de Valdueza, located in the municipality of Ponferrada.

The yew woods of Tosande are located on a slope facing north at an altitude of 1,400 to 1,650 meters, forming a mixed forest mostly of beeches (Fagus sylvatica) and yews (Taxus baccata), along with other leafy members.

The yew of San Cristóbal de Valdueza is a female specimen (Taxus baccata) and is considered one of the most emblematic trees of Castilla y León due to its monumental, cultural and social significance. The tree is located next to a small hermitage at a height of 1,115 meters, surrounded by crops and pastures about 210 meters from the town of San Cristóbal de Valdueza.

The action plan consisted in conducing a high-precision, terrestrial photogrammetric survey in 3D of a specific surface of the yew woods of Tosande. Photogrammetry is a technique based on studying and accurately defining the shape, dimension and position in space of an object or objects using measurements made over the photographs of those objects.

In order to perform this project in the Tosande woods, aerial and terrestrial platforms (the DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone and the Gimbal DJI Osmo camera, respectively) have been combined so as to acquire photographs that will later be processed using Automated Digital Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques.

With the information obtained in the previous phase and the data collected in the area, different parameters will be calculated in relation to the dimensions, structure and conservation status of the trees within the studied location.

During the photogrammetric survey and subsequent processing, the companies Bioma Forestal and 4Datum Investigación y Desarrollo S.L. have participated under the leadership of Cesefor and have been coordinated by the Junta de Castilla y León, partners of the project.

Terrestrial modelling of Tosande



Yew of San Cristóbal de Valdueza

Life Baccata

The LIFE BACCATA project works for the conservation and restoration of the priority habitat of the yew –currently threatened and in regression– in 15 areas of the Natura 2000 Network of the Cantabrian Mountains ranges and belonging to Galicia, Castilla y León, and the Basque Country.

The project plans to act on a large area of ​​the Cantabrian Mountains, although the study and the results obtained will have an international reach. This is due to the fact that there are similarly threatened territories in Portugal, France, Italy and Greece that have this type of habitat.

The yew has suffered a series of threats that directly influence the biodiversity of the areas it inhabits. These threats have originated over the years and are of various kinds: fires, fellings, construction of infrastructures, fragmentation, and lack of connection between these natural spaces, as well as the repercussions 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 take action and guarantee a sustainable future.

LIFE BACCATA will apply the necessary measures of protection and forest management that will promote the improvement of the conservation and restoration state of the yew tree and woodlands. By doing so, it will reinforce their natural regeneration, including species of flora and fauna that inhabit them, and will contribute to halt the biodiversity loss.

The LIFE BACCATA project is co-financed by the European Commission within the framework of the LIFE Proposal, taking place between 2016 and 2020 in 15 areas of the Natura 2000 Network of the Cantabrian Mountains range and belonging to Galicia, Castilla y León, and the Basque Country. The Santiago de Compostela University is participating as project coordinator, having as partners the Junta de Castilla y León, Cesefor, Hazi Foundation and TRAGSA Group.