Fundación Oso Pardo
THE BROWN BEAR FOUNDATION
Working alongside Fundación Oso Pardo, The European Nature Trust is committed to the protection of habitat and wildlife in Spain. In Spain, the brown bear is categorised as ‘Endangered’. As of 2017, there were approximately 240 bears in the Cantabrian Mountains.
Fundación Oso Pardo was founded in 1992 with the aim of contributing to the study and conservation of the brown bear, its habitat and its cultural surroundings.
The Foundation consists of a multidisciplinary team of scientists and experts in biodiversity conservation, environmental educators, communicators and rangers.
The work of FOP includes the conservation and restoration of high-interest habitats, monitoring of the bear population, research, the fight against poaching, training and environmental education, and the prevention of conflicts between bears and humans.
Fundación Oso Pardo deploys Bear Patrols in the most important bear zones of the Cantabrian Mountains. The patrols are made up of local men and women and their tasks include surveillance and monitoring of bear populations, support for research programs, environmental education and guiding visitors to the National Parks.
HABITAT PROGRAM – CONNECTIVITY & PLANTATIONS
One of the best ways to conserve the brown bear is to promote connectivity between populations using measures that allow the individuals to move around and breed.
FOP works to create a network of small forests, ‘wildlife corridors’, which encourage the bears’ movement. In addition, plantations around motorways encourage the bears to use the most suitable tunnels and passages and therefore avoid collisions with vehicles.
FOP also works to identify ‘black spots’ on roads and railways, where chances of accidents are greater, and propose specific measures that make these sites safer.
Over several years, FOP has also created a network of feeding points strategically located on the slopes most frequented by bears and, especially, by females with cubs. The land is planted with cherry trees, apple trees, alder buckthorn and other fruit-producing species.
The plantations are developed on abandoned grassland, in forests owned by FOP, or on public or private land through land stewardship agreements.
The plantation works are usually carried out with local forest cooperatives and unemployed local residents, thus contributing to the creation of local employment.
Many volunteers from the local area participate in the habitat program. Involving the local communities in the conservation work promotes values of solidarity, respect for the land and long-term involvement in brown bear protection.
The Foundation’s scientists design and carry out habitat characterisation and population monitoring projects, with special attention directed towards females with cubs. Genetic and behavioural analysis studies are also ongoing.
The team also studies the human dimension, and how different social, psychological, economic and political factors can influence perceptions, attitudes and tolerance of the bears. Conflicts between humans and bears are analysed and solutions for a peaceful coexistence are proposed.
Since its inception, FOP has reached several generations of schoolchildren in the Cantabrian Mountain Range with their environmental education programme, which promotes knowledge about biodiversity and conservation challenges.
FOP has developed informative campaigns directed at local communities which improve knowledge and appreciation of the bear, and in turn promote its social acceptance. Participatory structures which allow affected groups to be involved in conservation processes have been essential in developing dialogue and reaching consensus. This helps to prevent human-animal conflicts, find solutions to problems and achieves greater support for actions taken towards conserving the brown bear.
FOP & TENT
The European Nature Trust (TENT) has been working with FOP since 2017 to help to further their work to protect and restore the brown bear population and habitat of Asturias.
TENT assists FOP in their work through networking, fundraising events and taking our supporters on tailor-made trips to experience the conservation project – find out more.
We look forward to continuing our support of the Foundation and developing our partnership. The benefits of protecting and restoring the brown bear and its wilderness habitat in the Cantabrian Mountains extend far beyond the local environment, to the surrounding communities and to the entirety of Europe.
FOP FACTS & FIGURES
- FOP co-owns 14 woodlands that occupy 110 km2 in the west of the Cantabrian Mountains
- FOP has purchased 72 hectares of abandoned grassland in the region
- Nearly 163,000 fruit trees have been planted for the bears to feed on
- The Bear Patrols have caught over 150 poachers and dismantled 1,540 bear traps
- Since its inception, the Foundation’s educational programme has reached 81,692 school children in the Cantabrian Mountain Range