La Transició Forestal a Catalunya. Causes socioeconòmiques i efectes ambientals. Evolució del paisatge agroforestal a la Catalunya Central (1868-2005)

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


This thesis is about the study of the Forestry Transition (TF) in Catalonia and the driving forces and environmental effects of changes in agroforestry landscape throughout history. It is assumed that the TF in Catalonia has followed the same trend as in other Mediterranean countries, with two periods clearly opposite: one period of increasing deforestation, from the mid-nineteenth century until the first third of twentieth century, followed by another reforestation, from the middle of the twentieth century, resulting in a landscape less heterogeneous and complex than in the past, where the constant changes in land use and disturbance prevent forest forming different structures. Despite these generalized processes, in each area and over time, according to their economic, social and environmental characteristics, changes in land use, causes and effects may have been very different. This knowledge should allow us to make proposals for improving forest management and planning and formulating new ideas for regional balance between integration and segregation systems of biodiversity. The methodology used in this thesis divided the study into two parts. In the first, we have analysed forest policy, since the seventeenth century, and administrative acts, from each government, liberal, absolutist or democratic, such as control of timber harvested. Without specific information about land use changes in the past, perception and reasons of environmental regulations allows us to get knowledge about structuring of agrarian space and the pressure on woodland. In the second part, it has analysed agroforestry landscape evolution of Berga and Manresa District Councils, in Central Catalonia, with land-use maps of 1868, 1956 and 2005, and the main driving forces behind the demographic and socio-economic Forest Transition. The combination of land use and land cover change maps (LULCC) with inventories (IFN3 and IEFC) and landscape diversity metrics allow us to study the special dynamics of changes and the environmental consequences. The conclusion of this thesis is, as in other Mediterranean areas, that Catalonia has experienced a Forest Transition driven by a socio-metabolic system change, from an organic economy, based on the flows of biomass, to an industrial economy, based on the consumption of fossil fuels. This has led an accelerated forest recovery in marginal areas and an agricultural intensification in the more productive regions. Transition Forest has led increase biomass and a change of fire regime, with less pressure on woodland from the sixties and a gradual processes losing agroforestry mosaic, driven by underuse and abandonment. Several land changes, big forest fires and logging specialization have led to less mature woodland, which is less resilient and more vulnerable to climate change and with less biodiversity. This can not be compensated by the current homogenous and increasingly fragmented structure of the landscape. The historical land use knowledge is important for making better decisions about land planning, which areas to choose in order to preserve biodiversity and the best way to integrate forest management, promoting sustainable development based bio-economy.
Date of Award26 Sept 2017
Original languageCatalan
SupervisorRamon Garrabou Segura (Director), Enric Tello (Director) & Joan Pino Vilalta (Tutor)


  • Forest transition
  • Agroforestry landscape
  • Agrarian history

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