Sweet chestnut agroforestry systems in North-western Spain: Classification, spatial distribution and an ecosystem services assessment

José V. Roces-Diaz, Emilio R. Díaz-Varela, Marcos Barrio-Anta, Pedro Álvarez-Álvarez


Aim of study: Agroforestry systems of Castanea sativa have specific forest structures, which are different from other ecosystems of sweet chestnut. They have provided several ecosystems services (ES) to local inhabitants for centuries including relevant pastoral use. However on present times, have isolated distribution ranges and declining trends. The chestnut trees are their main components but occur at low densities. They are cultivated by using different treatments to improve specific features and maximize different types of production.

Area of study: North-western of Iberian Peninsula.

Material and methods: We used a large database (>750 field plots) to classify C. sativa dominated-stands into different ecosystems typology (including traditional agroforestry systems), and to assess their most relevant ES. We used field data to define their spatial distribution and discriminant analysis to determine the classification accuracy. Finally we also defined a set of qualitative and quantitative ES indicators for different groups to compare different trends.

Main results: We successfully classified these ecosystems and found that the traditional agroforestry systems are of major importance in providing ES, as food provision or cultural services, but showed isolated distribution patterns. Moreover, other types of chestnut-dominated ecosystems, supply important ES such as biomass provision and climate regulation.

Research highlights: The relevance of the C. sativa agroforestry systems from ES point of view was pointed out in this work, but also their declining dynamic. Further analysis, based on temporal trends, could help to a better understanding of their status and to define conservation and management strategies.


rural abandonment; Castanea sativa decline; cultural landscapes; multifunctional ecosystems and landscapes; National Forest Inventory

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2018271-11973

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