The Canary Islands are taking an exciting new step towards certification of ecosystem services. The certificate covers more than 3,600 hectares under management by the agency on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain.
The Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean is an important habitat for migrating birds and hosts a raft of species of wildlife and flora endemic to the islands. In recognition of the current and future environmental and social importance of the La Cumbre forests, the Forestry Service of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria engaged Preferred by Nature to assess the area against the FSC (Forest Stewardship CouncilTM) Ecosystem Services Procedure.
“Water is a critical resource, and even more so on the islands: making visible the role of forests to improve its availability through responsible forest management is key. At Preferred by Nature, we are happy to have engaged from the inception with FSC in creating the Ecosystem Services Procedure to demonstrate further the positive impacts of the certificates,” said Mateo Cariño Fraisse, Land Use Programme Manager at Preferred by Nature.
The FSC Ecosystem Services can be described as an add-on for existing FSC certificate holders. It takes a holistic view on forest management by including impact assessments of conservation activities that influence the broader ecosystem services. For Gran Canaria, the new certification is expected to yield multiple benefits for both nature and people.
Among the benefits for the island community is, for example, reducing forest fires by improving the silvicultural status of tree stands. In La Cumbre these benefits are achieved by planting resilient species such as the native Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis) to capture runoff water that stems from horizontal precipitation that would otherwise pass over the summits. By planting trees, the escaping vapour will follow the roots into the soil and create a moister environment and effectively decreasing the risk of devasting wildfires. A more humid climate will also likely result in an increased chance of higher annual precipitation as clouds collide with the tree canopy and condenses into rainfall, further reducing the risk of fire.
The managers are focusing on preventive work against forest fires on private land in La Cumbre with backing from the Fondo Verde Forestal, a public fund operated by the Cabildo de Gran Canaria. They are currently directing interventions in La Cumbre towards what they call ‘preventive forestry’ such as clearing and pruning to maximise runoff and rainwater catchment of the horizontal precipitation, prioritising the ecosystem services areas.
“In the future, we may start compensating with direct payments the ecosystem services the La Cumbre forests are providing to the public,” said Carlos Velázquez Padrón, Forestry Coordinator of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria.
By mapping the La Cumbre ecosystem as part of the certification process, forestry managers can identify where their efforts are making the greatest impact on improving the area. By receiving the FSC Ecosystem Services certificate on top of their existing FSC Forest Management certification, the managers of the La Cumbre are also better positioned to track the progress of the various initiatives being implemented and collect new funding from public and private sources, noted Mr. Velázquez.
You can learn more about the FSC Ecosystem Services procedure here. If you would like to have your company or forest certified under FSC procedures, please get in touch with our team.
We also provide training on FSC Ecosystem Services. Learn more here.
Photo by Mateo Cariño Fraisse / Preferred by Nature