69% of the Galician territory is forest area. There are at least 600,000 landowners with small plots of land that, on average, do not reach 1/3 of a hectare. In addition, 90% of the landowners who lived in rural areas 30 years ago no longer do so.
As a consequence of this situation, there are several pressing problems for the Galician forests, such as forest fires, environmental degradation or under-exploitation of resources.
To try to turn this situation around, through the Ministry of Rural Environment the UXFOR was created in 2008 (Forest Management Units, from its acronym in Galician). The importance of this figure lies in the fact that the management and planning of the forest was done in accordance with forest management instruments and preventive planning (on a scale greater than the plot), with criteria that took into account sustainability, multifunctionality and various aspects that are traditionally considered in the management of forests: environmental, social and productive. In addition, it made it possible to go further by obtaining sustainable forest certification for a large part of the forest area, which would otherwise not be possible.
Each of these units had to occupy a minimum of 15 hectares, and their developers had to be at least 50% of the land owners of that area. The creation of these units could arise from the initiative of the land owners themselves, or be constituted ex officio by a decree of the Administration, after being defined in the Plan for prevention and defense against forest fires in the district.
The UXFORs functioned as legal or management entities, with a statutory regime, and were obliged to be governed by a Specific Management Plan or Forest Management Instrument, which included basic fire prevention infrastructures and the necessary measures to be adopted. Through the UXFOR, the owners involved were placed in a priority position when receiving aid or endowments of infrastructure, especially those who voluntarily agreed to participate in this way of reorganising the forest. Other benefits would also be obtained such as the non-relocation of plots, the possibility of representation in the Management Plan of the Unit, the valuation of the land, the improvement of infrastructures in the whole of the woodland, control over fire threats and the possibility of receiving periodic rents after the application of the Management Plan. The latter of these could be achieved through negotiations between the forest owners that make up the UXFOR and financial entities that wish to invest in the plantations or other uses made of these units.
Furthermore, the UXFOR had fire protection insurance that guaranteed the economic benefits of the plantations even if they were devastated by fires. The Regional Ministry of Rural Affairs considered that landowners would be more willing and willing to take care of their forest lands by implementing a methodology that ensured an annual income.
At the end of 2010, the UXFORs were dismantled by the new government.
Information source: http://adega.gal/media/documentos/C56-P36-37.pdf
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