Common Forests in NW Iberian Peninsula are traditional ownership systems where property rights are inherited by the condition of being part of communities (i.e. groups of neighbors) specific to each forest. In regions like Galicia (NW Spain) Common Forests span for the 33% of the total forest area (IDEGA, 2013; Alló and Loureiro, 2016). Their use depends very much on the decisions taken by the community itself; and by the regional administration if it takes over forest management via consortiums or agreements. Lack of interest or ineffective management by any of the actors often results in different degrees of abandonment. Consequently, the state and evolution of an important share of Galicia’s forest and rural landscapes, as well as the Ecosystem Services (ES) provided by them, are strongly dependent on the social organization of communities.
A specific case are Common Forest nearby cites or in suburban areas. In these common peri-urban forests, the ES provided by their constituent elements present multiple demand profiles: the community itself, as the residents in the area; and users coming by nearby urban areas. For the first, the forest is a provider of income as well as their immediate daily environment; for the second, the Common Forest is a unique provider of nature, recreation and landscape values. Thus, differences on views and participation schemes could drive different aspects of agreement and conflict (Marey et al., 2014; de Moura et al., 2015). Consequently, these forests represent complex socio-ecological systems whose comprehension is essential to find innovative ways for management from multifunctional perspectives.
In this work, the social-ecological perspective is used to increase the information needed to improve the management of the ecosystem and landscape services provided by the Common Forest of Monte Xalo, near the city of A Coruña (Galicia, NW Spain; 243,978 inhab.), which is managed by two different communities (Santa María de Celas (910 inhab.) and Santiago de Castelo (291 inhab.)). After the identification and classification of main stakeholders, surveys are being undertaken in order to collect the opinions of different stakeholder profiles (community members, occasional visitors, regular users, etc.) about the different services provided by the forest. In addition, perspectives on management by the communities are analysed. From the information obtained, as well as from remote sensing and Geographic Information System’s (GIS) data, landscape and ecosystem service mapping is performed to identify ES providing units, and to further being used in participatory processes.
IDEGA, 2013. La política forestal gallega en los Montes Vecinales en Mano Común. Ambienta, 104: 114-125
Alló, M., Loureiro, M.L. 2016. Evaluating the fulfillment of the principles of collective action in practice: A case study from Galicia (NW Spain). Forest Policy and Economics, 73: 1-9.
Marey-Pérez, M., Diaz-Varela, E., Calvo-González, A. Does higher owner participation increase conflicts over common land? An analysis of communal forests in Galicia (Spain) iForest, 8: 533-543
de Moura, R.A., Ferreira-Neto, J.A., Pérez-Fra, M.M., Garcia-Arias, A.I. 2015. The Different Relationships Built Around Galician Communal Property. Agalia, 111:9-28