Large-scale reforestation and afforestation policy in Spain: A historical review of its underlying ecological, socioeconomic and political dynamics
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Spain had not more than six million hectares of woodlands in the mid-19th century. Nowadays woodlands cover more than sixteen million hectares. During the last one hundred and fifty years, much effort was devoted to improving forest cover and, as a result, five million hectares were artificially regenerated, which represents ten percent of the whole country area. All this work required large nursery infrastructures, thousands of workers and high public investments. The outcome of these reforestation and afforestation efforts is nowadays obvious throughout the Spanish landscapes, and sometimes has given rise to controversy between supporters and opponents. Nevertheless, the process that led to the vast reforestation of Spain has not been yet studied in depth from a historical perspective. This study aims at reconstructing that historical process, by describing it through several features that help to understand the historical development of the artificial forest regeneration policy in Spain, together with its social, political and economic context. The study period comprises since 1879 to present, with special focus on the recent history, that is, since the mid-20th century. The lessons learnt from this analysis may contribute to improving the design of large-scale reforestation policies as well as their potential impacts in other parts of the world and, in the end, shed light on the debate about the possible solutions to deforestation and forest degradation.
Is part ofLand Use Policy, 2016, vol. 55, p. 37-48
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