The Lab

A transformative initiative that, in a collaborative and multidisciplinary way, works together with local communities to promote a transition towards environmental sustainability and increase resilience in the territorial management of the Barbanza region.

The Barbanza Ecosocial Lab works to promote a transition towards environmental sustainability and increase resilience in the territorial management of the Barbanza forests. Operating since 2020 in this region of Galicia that frequently suffers from forest fires, the project stands as a bastion in the fight for sustainable management, based on sound scientific methodologies and with a collaborative and community engagement approach.

Taking the previous work of the Barbanza Ecosocial Laboratory over the last four years as a starting point, the Laboratory’s proposal has been selected by the call for grants for the promotion of the forest bioeconomy by Fundación Biodiversidad del Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico (MITECO), receiving a boost of 2 million euros for the sustainable management of the territory. 

Participants in the project include Fundación RIA, Plataforma pola Defensa do Monte, the University of Santiago de Compostela (through CISPAC and the research groups Histagra and Uxafores), the University Pablo de Olavide, the City Council of Rianxo and Fundación Montescola.

The importance of the project lies in its potential to change the paradigm of forest management in Barbanza, promoting biodiversity, circular economy and the creation of green jobs. 

By combining science, community engagement and a vision of sustainable land management, the Laboratory aims to be the catalyst for resilient and sustainable transformation in the Barbanza region.

The project’s actions seek to promote the diversification of forest uses, recovering degraded areas and boosting their productivity to generate added value by obtaining and transforming raw materials, thus contributing to fire prevention. The management, use and transformation of timber and non-timber resources will be optimised, promoting the creation of value, employment opportunities and strengthening the link between society and the territory through training, voluntary work and education. These objectives are organised around seven lines of action, which are coordinated by the different project partners:

Sustainability assessment and energy community

Action 1 | University of Santiago de Compostela and Pablo de Olavide University of Seville

The transition process towards multifunctional management models for local forests requires the existence of tools for evaluating actions that can be used by the communities to make informed decisions. The Laboratory proposes a participatory evaluation model in which the communities are present, together with the university teams, in the collection of information and in the processing of the results, through the implementation of participatory processes. 

Participatory assessment process

Increasing the added value to the territory

Actions 2 and 3 | Plataforma pola Defensa do Monte

The aim of these lines of action is to bring underused or abandoned areas into production by eliminating invasive species, introducing livestock, carrying out various plantations and reinforcing fire protection infrastructures. Next, the use and transformation of raw materials into valuable products will be promoted through the promotion of innovation, job creation and training.

Production start-up
Combating the spread of invasive species, soil rehabilitation, regenerative livestock farming, diversified plantations

Use of raw materials
Quality timber procurement, fruit harvesting, resin extraction, honey production, mushroom gathering

Transformation of raw materials 
Sawmilling of timber for planks; processing, packaging and certification of food products; composting

Circularity and biodiversity

Action 4 | Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

Through soil rehabilitation and the promotion of biodiversity in communal forests, this line of action aims to strengthen their carbon sequestration capacity and promote the health and resilience of ecosystems. During these two years, the project will work on improving soil fertility through amendments based on waste and by-products, as well as studying their potential for trading carbon credits through improved forest management.

Carbon sequestration and soil remediation

Community innovation

Action 5 | Fundación Montescola

The project will deepen its integration into local social dynamics, directly involving the participating communities. Through training, volunteering and environmental education programmes, the Laboratory will seek to train and empower communities, involve them in the active management of the territory, and lay the foundations for greater environmental awareness linked to the territory on the part of young people.

Training, volunteering and networking

Communication and governance

Actions 6 and 7 | Fundación RIA

Transversally, the dissemination and communication action of the project will work to raise awareness and mobilise the local community and the rest of the citizens to understand, value and actively participate in the development and implementation of a sustainable and resilient bioeconomy. Similarly, effective governance of the project will be ensured by coordinating actions and facilitating collaboration between all actors and stakeholders.

Dissemination, coordination and monitoring