LIFE MIDMACC: Introduction of forest management techniques for the prevention of forest fires through the use of extensive livestock farming

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LIFE MIDMACC: Introduction of forest management techniques for the prevention of forest fires through the use of extensive livestock farming
Thematic sectors: 
Natural risks and population
Geographic characterisation - Biogeographic region: 
Project duration: 
Adaptation initiative typology: 
Green or based on ecosystem services
Type of climate impact: 
Diseases and vectors
Heat waves and other extreme events

Description of the case study

LIFE MIDMACC is a project whose main objective is to promote adaptation to climate change through the implementation and testing of different landscape management alternatives in mid-mountain rural areas, thereby promoting sustainable socio-economic development.

The project has developed and implemented 3 concrete adaptation actions in 3 strategic areas of the southern Pyrenees, north of the Iberian Peninsula, using innovative landscape management techniques.

Introduction to forest management techniques for the prevention of forest fires through the use of extensive livestock farming

The forest management pilot trials were carried out in wooded areas representative of the Mediterranean mid-mountains, such as a black pine (Pinus nigra) forest, a poplar (Populus nigra) forest on the La Garcipollera experimental farm (Aragon) and a holm oak (Quercus ilex) forest on the Requesens farm (Catalonia). The forest management measures applied were mainly based on selective thinning and undergrowth clearance in order to reduce tree density and promote mature structures with larger trees. 

In this way, the aim is to reduce the continuity of fuel and the risk of fire, to encourage the development of pastures thanks to greater irradiation of the soil, while promoting improved management of livestock, in this case cattle.

Challenges : 

The mountainous areas of southern Europe are highly sensitive to climate change. In the mid-mountain areas of the Mediterranean, available water resources have gradually diminished over recent decades as a result of climate change. In particular, longer and more severe droughts, combined with more frequent and intense heat waves, are increasing the vulnerability of these areas to forest fires and deforestation. In addition, the gradual abandonment of traditional land uses due to a lack of generational replacement and low profitability and social attractiveness is leading to a widespread loss of mosaic landscapes, which are more resilient to climatic extremes.

Objectives : 

The aim is to reduce the continuity of fuel and therefore the risk of fire, to encourage the development of grasslands by increasing soil irradiation and to promote better livestock management.

Solutions : 

At landscape level, the application of these adaptive silvicultural practices has been shown to significantly reduce the vulnerability of forests to fire risk and drought by improving moisture indices. The substantial improvement in the physiological state of treated forest stands would also have a positive effect on resistance to forest pests, by reducing their incidence and persistence.

In this sense, all the silvicultural practices applied (clearing and thinning of the undergrowth and introduction of livestock according to regeneration criteria) improved the ecological value of the forest, by increasing its resilience to disturbance.

At plot level, monitoring of eco-environmental parameters (soil moisture, infiltration, erosion, pasture production and quality, general environmental conditions, growth and physiological state of the forest) in the project's various pilot forest experiments showed an increase in soil water availability in the treated plots, particularly visible in the pasture plots.

This increase in water content was also observed in the vegetation, particularly during the summer season. 

Improving the moisture content of vegetation means reducing its flammability and, in general, substantially improving the health of managed forest stands, with a consequent increase in the moisture content of the vegetation.

Importance and relevance of the adaptation : 

A case mainly developed and implemented as an adaptation measure to climate change in the Pyrenean mid-mountains.

Key words : 
Forest management Medium mountain Selective thinning Fire risk Drought risk Emerging diseases
Region and / or city: 
Countries involved: 
Geographical governance level : 
Organisations involved : 

CITA, IPE-CSIC, CREAF and extensive livestock farms

Additional Information

Stakeholder participation : 

This pilot project was made possible thanks to the collaboration of CITA and its experimental station in Garcipollera (Aragon), which manages forests and carries out livestock farming, and the Albera natural site of national interest on the Requesens estate (Catalonia), which is privately managed and carries out livestock farming.

Success and limiting factors : 

Success: the integration of pastoral management in the forests treated maintains the effectiveness of the actions in the medium term.

Obstacles: price of adaptive silvicultural practices, high dependence on European subsidies, lack of incentives for the management of Mediterranean mid-mountain forests.

Cost-benefit analysis : 

From the socio-economic analysis of the adaptive silvicultural practices applied, an a priori determining factor is the need to integrate pastoral management into the forests treated in order to maintain the effectiveness of the actions in the medium term.

In general, the costs of silvicultural practices (mainly felling and thinning) depend directly on the characteristics of the terrain and the type and density of scrub to be treated. Once again, the Mediterranean upland forestry sector is also highly dependent on European subsidies for its management, and there are virtually no incentives for the management of Mediterranean upland forests that would allow this complementarity between livestock farming and forestry.  Furthermore, it is important to emphasise the essential role of woodland in Mediterranean mid-mountain pastures in sheltering livestock from the rigours of summer and avoiding the physiological stress caused by high temperatures. However, the Common Agricultural Policy does not include wooded pastures in the areas eligible for subsidies in this sector.  

For more information, see MIDMACC document nº. 9.


Legal aspects : 

The LIFE MIDMACC project has been developed within the framework of the LIFE Adaptation to Climate Change programme, in the 2018 call for proposals.

Implementation period : 


Reference information

Contact : 
Eduard Pla
Contact Email: 






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