This week, the Volterra team travelled to Castilla y Leon to begin implementation activities in the Salamanca demonstration areas. These were already prepared betwen the end of 2019 and spring 2020 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the low density areas of Cubo de Don Sancho and La Alamedilla, mycorrhized trees and shrubs were planted for multiple purposes:
- Aid regeneration of the woodlands which are no longer naturally regenerating (no new trees growing)
- Boost the immune system of the area by increasing the beneficial fungal populations through mycorhizza
- The mycorrhiza will also help the newly planted trees
- to establish healthy root systems and absorb nutrients from the soil
- to retain water during dry months and periods of drought
- to defend themselves from plagues and pathogens in the area
In total, 207 trees (Quercus ilex, Q. pirenaica, P. pinea) and 25 bushes (Cistus ladanifer) were planted. C. Ladanifer is especially valuable becuase of its beneficial relationship with high value truffles, which thanks to prior mycorrhization may fruit in the next 5 years).
Survival aids were used such as the cactus, which protects trees from being eaten, and cocoons which store and provide water for the first year of the plant’s life.
In the high density area of Linares de riofrio the Project contemplates thinning with spore oil: Selective thinning is similar to careful pruning – it can stimulate healthy new growth. It also serves to remove some biomass from the area, reducing the amount of combustible biomass which could burn in a forest fire. The spore oil serves two functions:
- Increase the fungal population in the area
- Increase the decomposition of leftover biomass (stumps, trunks), cycling nutrients, growing edible mushrooms, and reducing the biomass available for combustion.
Volterra only acted in a small section of this forest area which had recently been thinned by the Junta de Castilla y Leon through the removal of mainly pine trees to give more space to the oak and chesnut trees. Several oak and pine trees lying around were cut with spore oil on the chainsaw. Also, the stumps were treated with spore oil (applied with a brush). The area is a chesnut forest of high value that is affected by chestnut blight. The idea is that thinning and increasing the fungal population (through the spore oil dispersion) will make this forest more healthy.