Continental to Arid Climate Zones Becoming Less Apt for Biodiversity in Spain

Continental to Arid Climate Zones Becoming Less Apt for Biodiversity in Spain

Most of touristic Spain is known for, among other things, its ideal location for warm summers and tasty wine. While the Mediterranean climate that Spain boasts for its tourists is not known for growing many things well, it is well suited for some specific crops such as citrus fruits, olives, figs, and wine. It has thereby been cultivated as such. With 54% of its land devoted to agriculture and 9% to built structures, barren land, or wasteland, this leaves about 37% for forest area in the rest of the country. While Spain is ranked 35th in forest area size, its percentage of forest area (in comparison to country size) is ranked 72nd worldwide. While many of the higher-ranking countries on the latter list are less developed and have smaller economies, it is of note that Spain’s rank falls by over double between the two ranked category lists, signifying that its land could be better used. More forest area could be reserved to preserve biodiversity, and agricultural land could be simultaneously minimized and better used (i.e. for more produce and less meat).

Additionally, according to the World Atlas, Spain has Europe’s second-largest amount of land devoted to agricultural production; only 10% of it is considered excellent for cultivation due to poor soils characterized by the Mediterranean climate. Much of the agricultural land is instead devoted to pastureland, oftentimes for cows and other farm animals. This is an inherent problem for climate change in and of itself, as cows are a leading source of carbon emissions worldwide, and one of the two most carbon-intensive foods, along with lamb.

In 2017, Spanish agriculture emitted 40,398.3 million tons of CO2, representing about 8% of their total 344 million tons. Another major threat to these GHG numbers is the growing number of forest fires throughout the intermediate climate zones of Spain (Continental and Mediterranean), a phenomenon that both emits immediate carbon into the air through smoke, and one that also takes away from the carbon absorbers (trees) in the future.

In contrast to the more arid climates in the Southeast and Center of Spain, there are also large forest zones in the Oceanic and Mountain climate zones of Northern Spain that store very large amounts of carbon. These areas were studied by El Centro de Investigación Ecológica y Aplicaciones Forestales (CREAF-UAB) in 2018 and specific recommendations were created on the forests’ behalf, both to preserve the biodiversity of the region and also to ensure they continue to sequester as much carbon as possible for the region and surrounding areas. Forest area is not expanding; forest area and biodiversity in the north have both stayed rather stagnant over the years in more recent history, and not much policy is focused on these sorts of initiatives in Spain.

As much of the country’s climate continues to shift from Continental to Mediterranean to Arid, where vegetation is less dense and mirrors their neighboring continent of Africa, the concern lies in mitigating this change both in terms of land type and land use. If too much of the land continues to be used for agricultural purposes, and as it becomes drier due to climate change, far too many resources (both natural and fiscal) will likely be dumped into an area that unfortunately has little promise for rejuvenation.


Activity Rating: ** Standing Still

While Spain is not actively destroying their land any more than historically registered through the years, the country is doing little to protect its lands from further, albeit natural, degradation. The land continues to be less rich than in the past, and this trend needs active involvement for it to even possibly begin to reverse its course. The subsequent impacts on biodiversity are self-explanatory; the more forest area available for animals, the more species will flourish. This is something that Spain may think about bringing into its climate plans, although it is not nearly as much of an immediate priority as the faltering Mediterranean climate.


Take Action

 Message:

Dear Sra. Pascual,

Thank you for your work at the ministry and with Minister Planas. As you know, it is important to continue to preserve more forest land in Spain, as the arid climate takes over more and more of the Iberian Peninsula. One way to do this is to encourage less meat consumption, as 20% of the land that could be dedicated to forests is instead dedicated to pasturelands. As your ministry is also in charge of consumer alimentation, this option is not out of reach for your team. It is our hope at Climate Scorecard that these actions are taken into consideration as soon as possible, as more time will result in further land patches no longer able to be cultivated. 9% of Spanish land is already in that category, with an additional 44% not ideal for the agriculture that inhabits it. We, therefore, urge your ministry to consider meat consumption and pastureland reduction policies for these reasons. If these land-use change policies are put at the top of your list, it would ultimately help mitigate climate change and protect human health and well-being in the long-term.

Contact:

Anabel Pascual Casas

Re: Luis Planas Puchades, Ministro de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación

Paseo Infanta Isabel, 1

28014 Madrid

+34 91 347 45 80

gprensa@mapa.es


This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Spain Country Manager Samantha Pettigrew



Cambio y uso de la tierra en España: las zonas climáticas se vuelven menos aptas para uso agrícola

La mayor parte de la España turística es conocida, entre otras cosas, por su ubicación ideal para veranos cálidos y vinos sabrosos. Si bien el clima mediterráneo de muchas regiones en España no se cultiva una gran variedad de frutos, es adecuado para algunos cultivos específicos como cítricos, aceitunas, higos y vino. Por lo tanto, se ha cultivado como tal. Con un 54% de sus tierras dedicadas a la agricultura y un 9% a construcciones, tierras yermas o tierras baldías, esto deja alrededor del 37% para el área forestal en el resto del país. Si bien España ocupa el puesto 35 en tamaño de área forestal en el mundo, su porcentaje de área forestal (en comparación con el tamaño del país) ocupa el puesto 72 del mundo. Si bien muchos de los países de mayor rango en la última lista están menos desarrollados y tienen economías más pequeñas, es notable que el puesto de España cae más del doble entre las dos listas de categorías clasificadas, lo que significa que su tierra podría ser utilizado de mejor manera.

Además, según World Atlas, aunque España tiene la segunda mayor cantidad de tierra de Europa dedicada a la producción agrícola, solo el 10% se considera excelente para el cultivo, debido a los suelos pobres caracterizados por el clima mediterráneo. Gran parte de la tierra agrícola se dedica a pastizales, muchas veces para vacas y otros animales de granja. Este es un problema inherente al cambio climático en sí mismo, ya que las vacas son una fuente líder de emisiones de carbono en todo el mundo, y uno de los dos alimentos que ocupa la mayor cantidad de carbono, junto con el cordero.

En 2017, la agricultura española emitió 40.398,3 millones de toneladas de CO2, lo que representa alrededor del 8% de su total de 344 millones de toneladas. Otra amenaza importante para estos números de GEI es el creciente número de incendios forestales en las zonas climáticas intermedias de España (continental y mediterráneo), un fenómeno que emite carbono inmediato al aire a través del humo, y que también les quita a los absorbedores de carbono (árboles) en el futuro.

A diferencia de los climas más áridos en el sureste y centro de España, también hay grandes zonas forestales en las zonas climáticas oceánicas y montañosas en el norte de España que almacenan grandes cantidades de carbono. Estas áreas fueron estudiadas por El Centro de Investigación Ecológica y Aplicaciones Forestales (CREAF-UAB) en 2018 y se crearon recomendaciones específicas en nombre de los bosques, tanto para preservar la biodiversidad de la región como para garantizar que continúen secuestrando tanto carbono como sea posible para la región y sus alrededores.

Como gran parte del clima del país continúa cambiando de continental a mediterráneo a árido, donde la vegetación es menos densa y refleja su vecino de África, la preocupación radica en mitigar este cambio tanto en términos de tipo de tierra como de uso de la tierra. Si una gran parte de la tierra continúa siendo utilizada con fines agrícolas, y a medida que se vuelve más seca debido al cambio climático, es probable que se viertan demasiados recursos (tanto naturales como fiscales) en un área que desafortunadamente tiene pocas promesas de rejuvenecimiento.


Image Source: https://www.lasprovincias.es/planes/mejores-bosques-espana-20171006190430-nt.html?ref=https:%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

x
x

Climate change is real, and what governments do matters.

Help us work with key stakeholders globally to ensure continued support of the The Paris Agreement.