Forest management must adapt to the challenges of global change

16 December 2022

An article published in Forest Ecology and Management analyses the historical evolution of forest management in Spain since the 1940s   


The trends, studied using 11 indicators, show significant differences in forestry practice among forest ecoregions  


Researchers from the CTFC, the University of Lleida (UdL), and the European Forest Institute (EFI) have documented and analyzed the evolution of forest management practices in Spain since mid-20th century. Spain is an interesting case study due to its significant increase in forest cover over the last 150 years and its diversity of forest ecosystems and management approaches.  

For the work, the researchers have studied 11 decision-making indicators and forest management practices. Sergio de Miguel, researcher at the CTFC and professor of forest sciences at the UdL, explains that “forests provide countless essential services to society. Therefore, it’s of paramount importance to have a sustainable and adaptive forest management approach that considers and promotes the multifunctional role of forests. Understanding how forests have been and are being managed is essential to know how the current forest landscapes have been shaped and how management could be improved to better meet all the needs of society in the face of global change.”  

The analysis carried out also found clear regional differences. The management of forests in the Atlantic area is more aimed at production, while in the Mediterranean areas the tendency is towards protection.  

According to Enric Vadell, lead author of the study, “this work shows that the different forest management decisions taken in Spain have evolved differently. Some show a gradual change towards the progressive integration of the multifunctionality of forest ecosystems, others lean towards a more intensive type of forestry, and others have not changed much since the 1940s because they are linked to decisions such as the type of regeneration, which in our forests is mainly natural.”  

For Jesús Peman, professor and researcher at the UdL, the results of the study are a tool to assess the actions that will bring us closer to a climate-smart management to adapt forests to climate change. Examples of these kinds of actions can be assessing the number of species present in the forests or the need to orient genetic improvement towards varieties resistant to drought and rising temperatures. Hans Verkerk, EFI researcher, points out that the results obtained allow scientists to objectively compare Spanish forest management with that of other European countries, and Maitane Erdozain, CTFC researcher, underscores that the description and discussion of the trends allow to anticipate where the Spanish forest management is headed as well as what management decisions should be reconsidered according to the objectives of the country’s forest policy. 


Further information:  

Enric Vadell, Jesús Pemán, Pieter Johannes Verkerk, Maitane Erdozain, Sergio de-Miguel. Forest management practices in Spain: Understanding past trends to better face future challenges. Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 524, 2022, 120526, ISSN 0378-1127, 10.1016/j.foreco.2022.120526 


Last modified: 16 December 2022