“Birdfeeder forests” in Migratory Bird Routes
The “birdfeeder forest” is a suburban forest garden in the municipality of Sant Boi de Llobregat in Catalonia, which has been designed and created with the collaboration of private enterprise and NGOs. The idea to reforest this area came originally from Miquel Guerrero, a member of Fundación +árboles, who pushed his contacts in the Sant Boi town government to obtain the economic means to reforest a public lot, making contact with the permaculturalist Julio Cantos and the company Paisajismo Forestales del Garraf.
The design method we used is permaculture, as an environmental design practice for sustainable human environments, and within permaculture, the forest design technique is analog forestry, defined as the creation of human-made ecosystems that imitate the natural (or potential) ecosystems and habitats of the area. The goals are to conserve the native biodiversity and ecological functions and use the ethnobotanical properties of the plants as an economic tool. The situation of the lot requires a fair bit of imagination to get people on board with a semi-wooded forest garden with ethnobotanical uses. We’ll get there through workshops with residents and by establishing a special sanctuary for birds, especially migratory ones, since the location of the forest in the eastern Iberian migratory routes means that it can serve as a refuge and feeding station, which is also compatible with social uses by people.
The main idea of the project is to create a space within the routes of migratory birds, a sort of semi-wooded garden with a diverse array of habitats and plant species with useful fruit for the birds – the garden will serve as a feeding stop on the one hand, but also as a focal point for seed dispersion of native woodland species by the birds who eat the fruits. Thus, we can give energy-rich food for the birds on their titanic marathons and also use these routes to reforest for free.
The Edible Forest Garden movement is reaching all over the world, started by Robert Hart in Wales in the 1970s, now with numerous sites all over the world, including in Corrientes, Argentina, and Seattle, USA. This project will be the first Edible Forest Garden in a public space in Catalonia.
In 1981, the biologist Ranil Senanayake created the concept of analog forestry in Sri Lanka, with the objective of recuperating local biodiversity in monoculture fields and degraded areas, applying scientific knowledge together with sustainable, traditional agroecological practices.
In analog forestry, one of the elements to keep in mind is the potential forest structure, which must be compared with the current state of the vegetation. In the case of the Finca Sant Boi, it is necessary to look at current and potential native species that have added value in order to create an analog forest. Some examples might be trees that provide food for birds and people, as well as non-native species whose structure and function are similar to native ones.
The garden presents numerous resources that can be used by its neighbors, who will be informed of these products through workshops and courses on edible species: asparagus, olives, fennel, calamints, oregano, carob and more – as well as medicinal species and plants with other uses. One of the objectives is to teach locals about practical ecology.
The following is a list of the rustic fruits present in the garden, along with their Spanish, English, and scientific names:
|Spanish name||English name||Scientific name|
|Acerolo||Mediterranean medlar||Crataegus azarolus|
|Higuera||Common fig||Ficus carica|
|Ciruelo silvestre||Wild plum||Prunus insitiata|
|Cerezo de bosque||Mahaleb cherry||Prunus mahaleb|
|Serbal||Service tree||Sorbus domestica|
|Mirto||Common myrtle||Myrtus communis|
Some exotic and/or invasive species exist in the garden, such as Araujia sericifera, Ampelodesma mauritanica, and Yucca spp., which must be eliminated. Giant cane (Arundo dorax) is an exotic plant that has become naturalized in the landscape, which can be managed with care and can be useful in biomass production that can be used as mulch or as a soil improvement once it has been ground up.
Perimeter safety zone
We will clear the perimeter of the garden from time to time in order to prevent adverse effects from possible fires, and in order to reduce the impact on houses around the garden, this area can be reforested with aromatic species such as rosemary, lavender, sage, santolina, and others. Once these species take hold, they will prevent the overgrowth of highly flammable grasses, and instead be a focal point for the attraction of butterflies and other insects.