J. Ruiz del Castillo et al. / Invest Agrar: Sist Recur For (2006) Fuera de serie, 24-39
halepensis forests and the Stipa tenacissima grassland are the most important. The third most abundant is a heterogeneous set of oligo- and multispecific scrubs; when occuring in the southeastern Iberian peninsula the most dominant species are Pistacia lentiscus, Peri- ploca laevigata, Launaea arborecens, Anthyllis cyti- soides, Anthyllis terniflora, Helianthemum spp., Thymus hyemalis, Hyparrhenia hirta, Brachypodium retusum and obviously Stipa tenacissima and Rosmarinus officinalis are also present. In the Ebro valley there are Genista scorpius, Helianthemum spp., Globularia alypum, Teucrium capitatum, Sideritis spp., Cistus clusii, Bra- chypodium retusum, Stipa spp., along with Rosmarinus officinalis. The fourth most abundant communities are those dominated by Anthyllis cytisoides (6.96%), which are very common in southeastern Spain, most coming from the abandonment of former agricultural crops. The rest of communities occupy smaller area.
For the Canary Islands, the most abundant broom- like scrubs are Spartocytisus supranubius communities, in the High Mountain Type, which reach 80.51% of the total area, due to the existence of large lavae zones included in intrazonal types. At a lower altitude, in the area of the Alize tradewinds forests Type, the most significant communities are fayal-brezales (27.32%), Pinus canariensis forests (14.14%) and laurisilvae (8.82%). In the Extra Alize tradewinds forests ype, the importance is shared by the Canary pine forests (60.78%), communities dominated by Cistus symphytifolius and/or Cistus monspeliensis (8.41%) and the broom- like scrubs of Chamaecytisus proliferus (5.70%). The Below potential forest belt Type is the richest in plant communities with abundant multi- and oligospecific scrubs (44.12%), communities of Launaea arborescens (14.25%), tabaibares of Euphorbia balsamifera (7.88%) and cardonales Euphorbia canariensis (3.18%). The Hyperxerophile Type, where semideserts are dominant
%) as well as scrubs with Salsola vermiculata
%), is much poorer in terms of plant covers.
The original descriptive elements used in the creation of the Forest Map 1:200,000 (climatic-structural domains, vegetation vertical structure, EL and plant communites) may make the interpretation somehow complex but they provide a valuable cartographic tool which is extremely close to the real complexity of the elements that have been described.
Until now the main updated information available on the plant cover of Spain came from the National Forest Inventory (Inventario Forestal Nacional) which analyzes a small group of species and plant mixtures and assesses a set of parameters (tree cover areas, alti- tude, growths etc.) that were all expressed in terms of spatial administrative units (autonomous regions, provinces, national parks etc.). The MF2C, as derived from the shown results, provides a highly valuable group of complementary data: a deep description of plant communities, further details on structure distri- bution (especially non arboreous structures) and an evaluation of the general maturity level (that will allow the analysis of trends by comparing different periods). All such information is spatially related to the large phytoclymatic areas.
MFE2C data show that the largest part of continental Spain’s forest area is included in the domain of poten- tial forests, with 92% corresponding to zonal Types. This value contrasts to the current situation in which only 40% reaches arboreous height (above 7 m), although there is a substantial 21.6% of subarboreous height (bet- ween 3 and 7 m). It is remarkable that an important part of the area is covered by scrubs, which make up around 40% of peninsular Spain. In the Canary Islands, however, as much as 70% of the area lays on the potential domain of non arboreous plant covers (natural absence of forests).
The largest percentages of the forested area in penin- sular Spain (between 50 and 60%) belong to Taiga-like and Deciduous Types, whilst the Hyperxerophile area is at the other end of the scale, with the smallest percentage (less than 10%) of tree communities. More- over, the high percentages (between 25 and 30%) of Subsclerophyll and Sclerophyll scrubs heights are also noteworthy, many of them being coppiced forest of tree species from seedlings. In the Canary Islands, the forest types cover more than 50 of the potential forest domain.
The application of the concept Evolution Level shows a very different sketch depending on which Climatic-Structural domain is considered. It is note- worthy that the highest evolution levels are found in Deciduous Type; however, Subsclerophyll and Taiga- like Types have the largest area of medium and high evolution degrees. The peninsular Hyperxerophile appears at the opposite end, with the smallest values. The Canary Islands show a similar trend: prevalence of high and medium values in the High Mountain Type compared to low and medium values in the Below potential forest belt. In the Alize tradewinds Type there are only high levels (between 7 and 9) 13.7%.