Changing forests in a changing mediterranean island: forests, fires and heritagisation of the landscape in Serra de Tramuntana, Mallorca



This research aims to study the social, historical and environmental dynamics around forests fires in Serra de Tramuntana, a protected area and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the island of Mallorca, in the Spanish state. From the second half of the twentieth century, and like in other Mediterranean rural areas, Serra de Tramuntana entered into a process of de-agrarisation, which led to the abandonment of many cultivated, pasture and forest lands. Moreover, in 2007, Serra de Tramuntana was conferred the status of Natural Site (Paratge Natural), resulting in the implementation of new land-use regulations and prohibitions which often conflict with local people’s land-uses and agroforestry management practices. Due to the changes in land-use and management, the landscape of Serra de Tramuntana has transformed by increased woodland and accumulated dead and living forest biomass. This combination of factors, together with the hot and dry summers, have enhanced an upsurge of large forest fires. In 2013, the largest forest fire ever recorded in the Balearic Islands burned 2,400 hectares of Serra de Tramuntana. Large forest fires, particularly from the 2013 fire, have galvanised public, media, scientific and governmental attention, highlighting the diversity and conflict of perspectives between a wide range of social actors. They have also become a focus for social conflict, and a locus for broader processes of social contestation, negotiation and cooperation linked to environmental change, to land-use and environmental management of the protected area. Combining an analysis of ethnographic, historical and geographical data, this research project aims to understand the social, historical and environmental dimensions of forest fires in Serra de Tramuntana. My research seeks to understand (1) the varying social perspectives about the factors that today contribute to the incidence of large forest fires in Serra de Tramuntana and the possible management solutions for this issue; and (2) how the presence of fire reflects the convergence of multiple social perspectives and actions associated with the use and management of the protected area.

Cifre-Sabater, M. (2020) Changing forests in a changing Mediterranean island: forests, fires and heritagisation of the landscape in Serra de Tramuntana [PhD thesis] Kent Academic Repository.