Case Study – Spain

Catalonia, Spain

For this case study, our main focuses are:

  • To investigate the resilience potential of forests to cope with increasing drought episodes in a Mediterranean-type region while maintaining the provision of key ecosystem services 
  • To evaluate the role of different management options as a mechanism to increase forest adaptability to climate change threats and other challenges (e.g. changing societal demands). 

Quick overview

Area: 1.4 x 106 ha

Value chain: Limited wood processing, domestic use

Biogeografical area: Mediterranean

In short

Case Study - Catalonia, Spain




Ecosystem Services

Wood & biomass production               

Non-wood provisioning services

Outdoor recreation

Carbon sequestration & storage

Case study Q&A

How does the value chain look like: supply, demand, timber market?
The forest value chain in Catalonia can be considered short and organized along small- to mid-sized mostly private forest owners, except for some public areas (municipalities) in the Pyrenees. Interestingly, non-wood products (i.e. mushrooms, truffles, pine-cones and cork) represent 42% of the value of forest products in comparison to the 58% of firewood and timber. Biomass represents more than 50% of wood destination. All the economic activities included in the forest value chain represents ca. 1.6% of the Catalan GDP. Nevertheless, it must be considered that most of the wood used in second transformation does not come from local forests.
What are the silvicultural measures applied – if any?
As most Catalan forests are currently overstocked, the main plans to reduce the impact of wildfires and forest decay episodes owing to drought, while boosting bioeconomy, are focused in reducing tree density and the presence of ladder fuel and increasing tree vigor by means of increasing forest exploitation. Therefore, there exist the general aim to increase the harvesting of yearly forest growth from the current 30% to 50%, while also enhancing biodiversity maintenance. The main silvicultural practices to achieve these objectives are aligned with a close-to-nature forestry perspective including the promotion of mixed stands, specific treatments to increase the vitality of trees and the establishment of “natural evolving” forest areas with minimal or no intervention. There is also a strong emphasis in developing innovative financing mechanisms (including land stewardship tools, tax deductions) to remunerate forest owners for the loss of income caused by the implementation of practices to encourage biodiversity maintenance.
What is the amount of the wood harvested?
Only 30% of the yearly forest growth is harvested. This corresponded to 650.900 m3 of conifers and 79.128 m3 of broadleaved species during 2020. From 2014 there has been a small but steady increase in the amount of wood harvested.

Yearly amount of wood harvested in Catalonia for the period 1988-2020. Conifers= green light column, Broadleaved = dark green. Source: Generalitat de Catalunya

Case study partners

Ecological And Forestry Applications Research Centre