• Researchers develop the first tools for the management of Chestnut trees in scrubland

    March 11, 2015

    The fieldwork developed for more than three years has led to a detailed inventory of the main tree species of the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula and to the design of new tools to improve their use

    Asturias has a forested surface of 451.317 hectares, 80.560 of which are mainly covered by chestnut trees in scrubland.

    The research group of Atlantic Forest Systems (GIS-Forest) of the University of Oviedo has collaborated with the Forest and Wood Technology Research Center (CETEMAS) in the development of the first tool aimed at forest management of Chestnut trees in scrubland, which is the most predominant one in the northwest of the peninsula and covers almost 18 % of the forest surface area of Asturias. The Chestnut in scrubland is the one that grows naturally, not artificially planted by humans.

    More than three years of fieldwork, in the framework of the Strategic Plan for Chestnut trees and funded by the Local Government of the Principality of Asturias, have allowed a group of researchers to elaborate a detailed inventory including heights, diameters, mass characteristics, etc., that provide detailed information of the status of this species nowadays and allow experts to design a sustainable forest management plan, improving the benefits resulting from forest species.

    Some countries like France have pioneered the implementation of the forest management of this species. The research work developed has led to the development of new tools to determine growth and production, such as biomass equations, a profile function, a site index equation, cubing tariffs with classification of products, production tables, diagrams to manage density or models that allow determining the site index, taking into account several environmental variables.

    The abandonment of forests and the health condition of trees are the main priorities, according to experts

    Forest abandonment is the first and main problem that the researchers have faced when evaluating this situation. "These forests have a strong potential that we are not using due to the lack of interest of both private owners and public administrations", María Menéndez Miguélez explains, member of the research group and whose PhD Thesis, co-supervised by Pedro Álvarez (Research Group of Atlantic Forest Systems. GIS Forest), and Elena Canga Líbano (CETEMAS), is focused on the development of tools aimed at the management of chestnut in scrubland. From a health point of view this species is not good at all. "We have noticed an important presence of chancre, a major fungal disease which causes progressive weakening of trees, and hinders their growth", María Menéndez explains.

    In Asturias there are 451.317 hectares of forest surface, 80.560 of which are covered by Chestnut in scrubland. This means 17, 85 % of the forest surface in Asturias and 49, 5 % of the total surface of chestnuts in Spain. This species has always been strongly linked to the Asturian history and culture, since it is the material used to build raised granaries or house fencing. Moreover, chestnut played an important role in the diet of the rural Mediterranean population for decades.

    Research team:

    • Pedro Álvarez Álvarez (Research Group of Atlantic Forest Systems (GIS Forest)
    • Marcos Barrio Anta (Research Group of Atlantic Forest Systems (GIS Forest)
    • Elena Canga Líbano (CETEMAS)
    • Juan Majada Guijo (CETEMAS, Research Group of Atlantic Forest Systems (GIS Forest)
    • María Menéndez Miguélez (CETEMAS, Research Group of Atlantic Forest Systems (GIS Forest)