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The Forest Map of Spain 1:200,000. Methodology and analysis of general results - page 2 / 16





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The Forest Map of Spain 1:200,000


sented. In all cases, non arboreous vegetation were ge- nerically indicated as «shrublands».

The first complete Forest Map of Spain, led by Ce- ballos, was published in 1966 on a scale 1:400,000. Forest patches were symbolized through their principal tree taxa, specifying if the occurrence was due to afforestation; as a result, 22 plant species for peninsular Spain and 15 for the Canary Islands were mapped; shrub- lands were generically grouped together into an unique type. The information from field surveys, carried out by F. Eng. Pardos, Úbeda and LópezVallejo between 1962 and 1964, was directly sketched on provincial maps on scale 1:200,000 providing an excellent cartographic product, taking into account the limited material, economic and human resources available at that time, and brilliantly drawn by López González and López Fernández. Ceballos’ Forest Map became since then a highly valuable reference to analyze the evolution of plant communities, being essential as well to truly know the natural and reforested distribution of main tree species in Spain.

Moving up to 1985, Dr A. Madrigal, subdirector of ICONA, and For. Eng. L. Berbiela, head of the Servicio de Repoblación Forestal, had the initiative to entrust Prof Dr J. Ruiz de la Torre with the design and planning of a new forest map. Since 1986 until 1998, Ruiz de la Torre also directed and coordinated field and office works of the MFE2C expert team in the Escuela de Inge- nieros de Montes of Madrid, while map sheets were consecutively being published once finished all mapping tasks. The project was coordinated, supported and finan- ced by the Área de Banco de Datos of the Dirección Gene- ral para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (former ICONA).

Overall, the objective of the MF2C was to obtain an extensive collection of data, showing the current state of vegetation in Spain. Twenty years since the publication of the last Forest Map compelled the need for an update because of evident changes in the vegetation cover, mainly caused by several facts:

  • Woodlands were no longer exploited for fire-

wood and charcoal due to modern use of oil and natural gas as energy sources.

  • The addition of new forest woodstands establi-

shed by means of the Forest Plan (1939), as can be de- rived from Figure 1 (evolution of reforested area in Spain).

  • The acute increase of rural depopulation.

  • The abandonment of marginal agricultural lands

at the end of the 70’s.

  • Changes in traditional ways of extensive live-

stock grazing


160,000 140,000 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000

End of the forest

map 1:400,000 fieldwork

Beginning of forest map 1:200,000



1940 1943 1946 1949 1952 1955 1958 1961 1964 1967 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991


Figure 1. The evolution of the reforested area and the carrying out of forests mapping in Spain.

  • The impact of agricultural mechanization invol-

ving the disappearance of small woodstands and thickets interspersed among crops.

  • The growth of urban development in forested


Selection of scale 1:200,000 was decided to achieve several objectives and needs: representation of types of plant covers dominated by tree species in small areas; characterization of non forested covers with a certain degree of detail; and the feasibility of finishing the whole work in a reasonable amount of time.

This paper put forward a brief outline of the metho- dology followed within the MF2C project along with the major characteristics of the Spanish vegetation re- garding the considered parameters.

Description of vegetation in the MF2C

The MF2C uses an original system designed by Prof Ruiz de la Torre. It examines 4 types of components, enabling detailed descriptions of vegetation that are also easily accessible for a large number of scientists and technicians who may not be necessarily specialized on complex classification systems.

The environmental component

The MFE2C uses the concept of Climatic-Structural Type (CST). It involves a prevailing physiognomy de- termined by the most dynamically developed (most mature) plant cover that can occur with a stable balance with the regional climate and soil. The general framework for environmental component is therefore bioclimatic.

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