4 d’ag. 2011

El pes que portem a l'esquena (V)

Es sols lo començament
lo que prenías per terme.
L’univers es infinit,
per tot acaba y comença,
y ençà, enllà, amunt y avall,
la immensitat es oberta,
y ahont tu veus lo desert
exams de mons formiguejan.

From the poem 'Plus Ultra' by J. Verdaguer (1905, p. 91)

When I came back from the Italian Dolomites, after the summer of 2003, the large fire of Sant Llorenç del Munt mountain had already been put out, but it was in everyone’s lips. I was given the chance to lead the Local Environmental Council of Matadepera. We organized several round tables and conferences with local and external experts to debate how to face the threat of wildfires. The volunteers of the local Group of Forest Defense (ADF) and the firemen stressed the need to manage fuel accumulating forests to reduce fire vulnerability. One of them, forest engineer of the Catalan Ministry of the Environment, was the bridge between the local knowledge of forests and fires and the expertise of the Catalan fire brigade’s special unit on large fires (GRAF). A management scheme was prepared with joint work that combined fire modeling with forest planning. The scheme, including mechanical thinning, slashing and crown pruning in about 100 ha of strategic areas regarding fire spread, was approved by the Town Council of Matadepera and executed by general consent of forest landowners and the Natural Park.

In order to control sprouting and to keep a low fuel load in the thinned stands we promoted the recovery of extensive grazing of sheep and goats, one of the most important economic activities of the region throughout the last millennia. We the ADF reached an agreement with the main forest landowner to use an old farmyard of their own. We restored the farmyard and offered financial, logistic, administrative and personal support to shepherd Paco from the Bages County to graze his flock in Matadepera’s forest. In collaboration with pasture ecologists a modest monitoring plan was implemented, where we measure the grazing pressure on plants and the effects of grazing on vegetation structure and chemical composition.

Some of the remnant fields in the municipality, both from the Town Council and private owners, are now ploughed and sowed to produce fodder and grain for the flock, ADF dealing with the management. Other fields are used by a sharecropper family to grow organic vegetables. Extensive farming and grazing contribute to the conservation of habitats and species that motivated the designation of Sant Llorenç del Munt mountains as Natura 2000 site, such as Bonelli's Eagle, and also other species and taxonomic groups not as media-friendly as the eagle but not less important: small mammals, butterflies, and birds.

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