The project LIFE IN COMMON LAND was born from a collaboration of three regional public bodies in Galicia with experience in planning and management of Natura 2000 network sites and from an interest in harmonising environmental conservation and land use in rural areas. There is a conflict between nature conservation and economic activities in the areas of Atlantic wet heaths and peatland habitats linked to agricultural systems with high nature value in the Natura 2000 site Serra do Xistral. These habitats have unfavourable or unknown conservation status.
The LIFE IN COMMON LAND project is a demonstration project whose main objective is to improve the conservation status of three priority habitats listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive - Atlantic wet heaths, raised bogs and blanket bogs - in the Natura 2000 network site Serra do Xistral, while reducing the social conflicts originating from the use of land for grazing by implementing integrated result-based management schemes. It follows successful examples applied in other areas of the Atlantic biogeographical region, with the particularity of taking place on land with a regime of common tenure.
The specific objectives, in order of importance, are to: Implement result-based management schemes on common land to improve the structure and function of the target habitats through management of livestock density, correction of livestock impacts and installation of livestock management infrastructure. This objective also includes the capacity-building and training of the different stakeholders involved in the conservation of the habitats and Natura 2000 network sites; Design and implement result-based payment schemes that might be integrated along with the management schemes in the upcoming regional rural development plan (RDP) of Galicia, improving the future prospects of habitats and long-term sustainability of the project results; Disseminate and transfer management measures, result-based payments on common land, and a methodology of results monitoring using multispectral cameras mounted on drones; Develop actions for increasing the area of wet heathlands habitat by replacing non-native woodland areas; and Raise awareness on the ecosystem services provided by the habitat diversity and their economic value to rural development in mountain areas. Evaluation of the common management of land as a nature conservation tool. The achievement of these objectives will take advantage of the outputs of previous projects and EU programmes (Horizon 2020 and LIFE).
Expected results: A total of 6 648.6 ha will be managed throughout the project: 156.6 ha of raised bogs, 2 500.7 ha of blanket bogs and 2 342.2 ha of Atlantic wet heaths.
The planned actions are expected to achieve the following results: Implementation of management schemes based on conservation outcomes on common land in order to improve the structure and function of habitats on 5 000 ha (100% of the surface occupied by the target habitats within the project area, and 92.7% of the blanket bogs- area on the Iberian Peninsula); Improvement of conservation status of the target habitats on 5 000 ha of the Serra do Xistral site. Forest management plans of eight areas of common land will be approved. These will include result-based management schemes based on habitat conservation results and will apply for ≥35 years; Development of actions for the removal of invasive alien tree species in order to recover the occupation area of Atlantic wet heaths on 95 ha and of raised bogs on 5 ha; Inclusion of common land management model in the RDP of Galicia, expanding the project's demonstrative potential to the remaining areas of raised bogs (1 818.57 ha) and Atlantic wet heaths (12 995.45 ha) within the Natura 2000 network, multiplying the project's impact; Dissemination and transfer of the management actions, result-based payments for conservation on common land, and the methodology of monitoring using drones, to all EU countries; and Awareness raising of both stakeholders and the general public in the project area about the importance of the target habitats, reaching a target audience of over 22 000 people.