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Certain uses related to the extensive livestock farming, one of the most important economic activities of the Karrantza valley may endanger the conservation state and the survival of the most characteristic habitats of the Ordunte SCI (Site of Community Interest). Changes in the management and the use of heavier breeds has led to trampling and grazing that is excessively difficult to bear in certain enclaves. Furthermore, the use of fire to try to create pastureland has diminished woodland and bush areas, leading to deterioration and impoverishment of the ground. The high rainfall in the area, along with the steep slopes, the wind and sandy soil have led to major erosive processes.

One of those fires, at the end of the 1980s, significantly damaged the blanket bog on Mount Zalama. Forty per cent of the surface area of the peat dried out completely, which created exposed banks that contributed to the continuous loss of peat and water, as a result of the combined effect of wind erosion, the dragging of superficial currents of water and the trampling by livestock and hikers.

On the other hand, the repeated fires on these mountains have led to very homogeneous indigenous woodlands, with little capacity for regeneration, sprouts from stumps and with  great pressure from livestock the prevent the generational turnover. More recently, the expansion of exotic species in the woodlands has decreased the area of natural woodland.

Endeavours of Bizkaia Provincial Council.

94.4% of the Ordunte surface area is catalogued as Woodlands for Public Use, which means the site is under public guardianship, where significant investments have made to improve and conserve the area.

Due to the frequent fires in these mountains, the management has integrated aspects aimed at preventing fires (mainly clearing, pruning and providing infrastructures) and offsetting their effects (prevention of erosion and replacing damaged wooded areas). However, at the same time that Ordunte was named as a Natura 2000 site, other work lines were implemented whose objectives include the recovery and conservation of natural values, the restoration of the Zalama blanket bog, the regeneration of the indigenous species or the inventory, conservation and monitoring of the populations of flora and fauna species of regional and community interest.

The first direct intervention in the Zalama blanket bog was in 2009, when a perimeter fence was put up to stop the vehicles crossing and livestock from entering the fens. In 2010, the zones of the peat-bog without vegetable cover were restored by covering them with geo-textiles to avoid the effects of the erosion and to make possible the regeneration of the own plant of the habitat. The Sustainable Ordunte LIFE+ project will allow the restoration work of the blanket bog to continue.

In recent years, work has already been carried out in the woodlands to foster the natural regeneration of the beech, Pyrenean oak, alders, etc., by means of selecting shoots, pruning, enrichment planting and fencing to keep livestock out.

Investment in the conservation measures in the Ordunte SCI has exceeded 3 million euros in the last 10 years.

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