Archive for April, 2011

Winemaking and climate change

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

From El País in English

Spain will be one of the areas most affected by climate change,” he said, adding that a one-degree temperature change pushes the boundaries of winemaking as much as 100 kilometers north – the fact that Britain now has 1,000 hectares of winemaking land would have been unthinkable just 150 years ago. Spain, by comparison, has 2.9 million acres of land planted with wine-producing vines.

Hundreds of puffins found dead on Cantabrian coast

Monday, April 25th, 2011

More than 200 puffins have been found dead along the coasts of Asturias and Cantabria in the last six weeks. SEO/Birdlife, who are unsure as to the cause, suspect the real figure could be in the thousands.  More here

The threat of eucalyptus

Monday, April 25th, 2011

The expansion of eucalyptus farming in the Iberian Peninsula began some 40 years ago, sold as a profitable panacea, a fast- growing tree species producing abundant pulp in comparison with slow-growing oaks.  Today there are more than 760,000 hectares of the tree planted in Spain and 646,000 in Portugal.  Don’t be fooled by the fires that rage each year in the their plantations. They are not forests, but rather green deserts with a huge environmental and landscape cost. Every years hundreds of thousands of new trees are planted: some 30 million will be planted in Galicia alone. Crónica Verde More stats from El País

I wrote this on iberianature a couple of years back in relation to a bout of eucalyptus fires:

Yes, this is bad news for the owners and the people who live in the area. One might call it an industrial disaster, but hardly bad news ecologically. If there was anything more than token policy for reintroducing autochthonous species, one might even say it was a good thing, but as it is, reforestation in this damp corner of Spain will be swift. Eucalyptus is highly combustible but also regenerates incredibly quickly afterwards. There are hundreds of fires along Galicia ‘s coast of year, yet all along the Rias Bajas and Altas there is an almost continuous mono-crop swathe of these Australian trees. This birdless green desert is the true disaster of Galicia ‘s coast.

Tenerife tsunami

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

The northwest coast of Tenerife was destroyed by at least two massive tsunamis makes between 150,000 and 180,000 years ago. The waves towered 50 metres high and swept some 800 metres inland in an area of several square kilometers. There is no comparable risk of Tsunamis today on the island. El Mundo

Injured bear found in Asturias

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Latest from Lisa on an injured bear found in Asturias (includes video).

Wolves expanding in Catalonia

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

The wolf appears to have firmly returned to Catalonia after an absence of more than 70 years. In the last few years a dozen  or so animals have been gradually arriving from France (see below) and settled in the Pyrenees, and have even reached as far south as the Vallés Oriental. The news  was released in the latest issue of the Spanish wildlife journal Quercus which reports the presence of up to 13 different individuals, some identified only once and others that appear and disappear depending on the  year.  However, so far all animals have been males, except for a female detected in 2008. This  is a common pattern, as young males tend to be the first to disperse, which explains in part why so far there is no evidence of breeding in Catalonia.The wolves have been detected in across an area of some 1,400 square kilometers in the Cadi mountains and other surrounding mountain ranges in Alt Urgell, Cerdanya, Alt Solsonès, and Berguedà. Unsurprisingly, the animal’s return has revived the traditional conflict with farmers and in the early years there was an average annual loss of about 80 head of livestock, although in some years more than 200 were lost. These attacks on livestock, for which farmers are compensated, have declined dramatically following various protective measures: just 3 sheep were lost in 2009 and 10 in 2010. ABC + Photo from here


How long before they reach Barcelona’s Collserola I wonder.

I wrote this last year

Tests have shown that this new influx of wolves in Catalonia is genetically Italian in origin, forming part of an expansion over a number generations out from the Apennines. The Apennine population began to expand in several directions from the early 1990’s. It moved north into the Italian and Swiss Alps; north-east into the French Alps and Lyon, and east towards the Pyrenees, reaching the Maritime Alps near Nice by 1996, Saboya by 1998. An individual was detected between Areja and French Cerdenya by August 1998 in the Madres Massif, just to the north of Canigó, and finally by 2004 into the Cadí range. The last Catalan wolf was shot in Horta de Sant Joan, in Tarragona in 1929, though the animal is thought to have disappeared from the Sierra de Cadí more than 100 years ago

Vultures on the roads

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Vultures in Catalonia are being increasingly spotted on the roads in search of roadkill, because of the paucity of their traditional sources of dead livestock: The EU prohibuts abandoning animal cacrasses because of mad cow’s disease. The above photo from La Vanguardia is along the N-230 between Lleida and Val d’Aran.