The Cantabrian brown bear (Ursus arctos) is one of the most endangered mammals in Europe, under strict protection since more than three decades.
photo credit: turgalicia
The decrease in genetic diversity and the small size of the subpopulations hinder the recovery of the species and threaten its viability (García-Garatigoitia et al. 2006).
Although recent studies reveal that both subpopulations are growing in recent years, the extent of suitable habitat and the limited connectivity between them hinder this process (Palomero et al. 2006).
In this sense, the CERES project, through one of its objectives: "To develop common methodological tools, demonstration actions to improve the ecological integrity and connectivity of forest areas (woodland or riparian)", aims to achieve the connectivity of the species in Castilla y León south of the A6 motorway in order to reoccupy places from which they had disappeared decades ago, taking advantage of the increase in territory and the continuous recovery of the species' population levels.
photo credit: CESEFOR
According to the pilot of the action implemented (Fundación CESEFOR)
As a first approach, an exhaustive analysis of the territory was carried out in order to determine the most critical locations for maintaining the connectivity of the species' habitat. We will focus our efforts on theses locations and provide practical guidance and management recommendations for better incorporation of connectivity in the management of the species and the forest territory where its habitat is distributed.
Two priority areas for action have emerged from this analysis, located in the municipalities of Trabadelo and Torre del Bierzo (León). In these areas, silvicultural treatments are being carried out on stands of Pyrenean oak (Quercus pirenaica) to reduce the density of trees, in order to affect and/or drastically alter the characteristics of the stand and make it unattractive to the bear, so that the bear moves away from the area and focuses on the surrounding stands, minimising the risks and safeguarding the integrity of the individuals. Clearing is also being carried out in the urban-forest interface of the town of Trabadelo to redirect the flow of animals towards the forest stands closest to the existing passes and prevent them from passing through the town so that both fauna and population are free of risk.
photo credit: CESEFOR