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Changes in forest landscape due to agricultural activities and their influence on natural ecosystems: the eastern Galician mountains

Diaz-Maroto, I.J., Diaz-Maroto, M.C.
Change and Adaptation in Socio-Ecological Systems 2018 v.4 no.1 pp. 1-6
agricultural land, biodiversity, biodiversity conservation, deciduous forests, ecosystems, hardwood forests, humans, industry, issues and policy, land use, landscapes, mountains, railroads, social environment, topography, wildfires
Forest and agricultural landscapes are vital in relation to biodiversity. Protection policies in such areas should include incentives to enable the common landuse practices. Conservation cannot be addressed in the short term because these landscapes have evolved as socio-ecological systems and provide optimal conditions for biodiversity maintenance. They occur in areas where agriculture has not changed significantly as in the eastern Galician mountains. The landscape dynamics has been shaped by human involvement during centuries. We analyzed how the landscape has evolved according to environmental, socioeconomic and historical changes with the aim of proposing actions for its conservation. The study focused on the recovery of natural hardwood forests which have been intensively exploited since ancient times. Over the past few centuries, these forests have been transformed to agricultural land, felled for use in the naval, metallurgical and railway industries, expropriated from the Church, and affected by wildfire; more recently, have been replaced by fast growing species. Today, broadleaved forests cover small areas of rugged land where the topography often precludes other land uses. In conclusion, although the landscape in the study area has undergone a major transformation, now this land is a priority for biodiversity conservation.