4 d’ag. 2011

El pes que portem a l'esquena (VI)

The philosophy behind this management strategy is not to exclude wildfire but rather to build a more resilient social-ecological system, being able to absorb fire events and retain essential structures, processes, and feedbacks. The decrease of fuel load in strategic areas through different techniques is expected to decrease the intensity of fires, which is ultimately responsible for damage to life and property. Our efforts have also been focused in stopping the encroachment of houses into the forests, since besides having direct negative impacts such as landscape fragmentation, destruction of heritage and high water consumption, vulnerability to wildfires is high and very difficult and expensive to manage by the Town Council. The narratives provided by some of our studies have been used as strong evidence that we are now suffering the social and ecological legacies of the wrong choice of development path for Matadepera. In the NE of the town core about 239 ha of low forested hills (almost 10% of the whole municipality) remained free from urbanization but were threatened by real estate interests. The Local Environmental Council started a campaign to involve the citizenship in the protection of the area. Elders joined us. Pintoret told us 'that it is already enough of houses, enough of asphalt, enough streetlights, enough cars and enough curbs and everything. In Matadepera we have gone too far'. With more than 1300 signatures and 18 local and regional bodies supporting the cause we asked the Town Council to protect the area from new developments. The plenary approved our proposal by general consent. The area is now protected and managed to enhance its heritage, and might be included in the Natural Park in the future. Some examples are the restoration of several old lime kilns by a team of archaeologists coordinated by the Local Environmental Council, and the recovery of one well by the Town Council to have an additional supply during the water shortage in spring 2008.

Management practices, direct action and scientific research are combined with environmental education within the Local Environmental Council, including a Botanical Garden created in 2005 and a program of conferences, courses and guided trips done in collaboration with several local organizations and primary schools. The dissemination of the management strategy through conferences, our journal Sotabosc, and regular communications with the local, regional and national media helps to overcome the urban view of landscapes as pristine nature and achieve a harmonious reconciliation of diverse points of view .  In a self-organizing process of action-research stemming from real-life problems, as insider scientists working together with the local community we produce knowledge that facilitates the socioecological transformation in the desired direction. Besides being fed back into the setting from which it emerged, the knowledge is expected to be shared beyond such setting. An effort is made to publish the results of action-research in local-regional journals, in the proceedings of the Natural Park periodical meetings, in national geographical journals, and in international peer-reviewed journals. In this way we contribute to the training of environmental scientists, either at the Bachelor’s Degree, Master, or PhD levels.

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