Our Image of the Month for April was taken by our Associate Editor Unai Pascual (Basque Centre for Climate Change – BC3).
The picture captures a typical mountain landscape of the Basque Country where pollarded trees often dominate in the landscape. The origin of these trees was based on the needs of the people from the 15th until the early 20th century. The trees, mainly oak (Quercus robur) and beech (Fagus sylvatica) were managed to obtain big curved branches for ship building (Basques were famous sailors and whalers for many centuries), as well as to obtain charcoal to feed large foundries. The trees used to be pollarded when they were about 50 years old, at about 2-3 meters height. The wood would be cut with axes in a traditional manner.
Habitats with pollarded trees are highly biodiverse and the landscape is enjoyed by people who relate to ancient cultures and ways of life in the forests. Today these forests represent important social-ecological components of the Basque culture. Not least, one of my sons is called Oihan which means forest, while the other, Hodei (cloud) is complementarily required to continue nourishing the soils and identity of our rich social-ecological systems.