Adapting to a Changing Environment

Organization: 
Cabildo de Tenerife

Entry Overview

General Info
Esther
Pïrez Martin
Email : 
estherpm@tenerife.es
Organization Address: 
Servicio Tïcnico de Planificacin y Proyectos Forestales, Cabildo de Tenerife
C/ Macetas, s/n 38108 Los Majuelos - La Laguna
Santa Cruz,
Spain
Problem
Population Impacted: 
Island of Tenerife has 910.000 inhabitants.
Size: 

2.034 km2 - 203.400 ha

Major Occupations: 
Tourism (60% GDP), Services (20%), Industry (10%) y Agriculture (10%).
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose: 
We are economically dependent on tourism attracted to the Island. The Canary Islands is a hot-spot of biodiversity globally, yet the enhancement of this biodiversity for tourism is underdeveloped. Another is water for human consumption & agriculture.
Local threats to resources: 
New and emerging tourist destinations. The impact of climate change on the islands affects Tenerife's forests and environmental services (further explained below).
Climate Hazards: 
Currently there are no conclusive studies as to how climate change will affect the Canary Islands. Research teams from the University of La Laguna are working on this issue and we hope that they will shortly provide us with results which we can add to our projects. Evidence does however exist that changes are taking place in rainfall (less), temperatures (higher) and the frequency of heat waves (more often) which have a close bearing on large forest fires. There are also models which make it possible to evaluate the displacement that will take place in native woods due to the increase in temperatures. It is expected that the line of transition between the ?monteverde? and the pine forests will increase in altitude, compared to where it is at present. ? When designing the project we have taken into account this possible upward displacement of the line of transition. In our reforestation project described below, we have therefore chosen to plant trees which will easily adapt to these changes, should they ever arise. ? Increased temperatures ? Decrease in rainfall ? Increased torrential rainfall and tropical storm conditions increasing its erosive force and soil loss. ? Increased number of heat waves ? Increase in large wildfires ? Changes in the altitudinal distribution of forests with displacement of pine and laurel forests at higher elevations due to the increase of the average temperature. See also: http://www.slideshare.net/ClimaImpacto/vulnerabilidad-al-cambio-climtico?ref=http://climaimpacto.eu/en/taller-vulnerabilidad-cambio-climatico/
Level of exposure to these hazards: 
As the results of the project ?ClimaImpacto? (www.climaimpacto.eu ) confirmed, there is increasing evidence that these changes are already happening and forecasts for the future are concerning.
Level of sensitivity: 
The increase in heat waves, coupled with the rapid changes in the distribution of forests, which will lead in some cases to increased water stress and species die-off will increase the impact of large forest fires (e.g. in 2007 forest fires affected 18,000 ha on an island with a total area of 200,000 ha) whose main consequences were: - A momentary loss of biodiversity. - Forced forest rejuvenation. The fire regime of recent years is much more intense than that which occurs naturally in these forests. - An exponential increase in the risk of erosion and landslides, in areas of high slope, compounded by the increasing trend of torrential rains and tropical storm frequency. - A reduction in water uptake by forests: due to less precipitation and the damage caused by forest fires. - A significant landscape impact, due to the increase of wildfires and changes in forest types, too fast for a gradual adaptation of the species. This implies a deterioration of the quality of the islands potential to attract tourist as well as a decline in the recreational function and wellbeing benefits for local people.
Level of adaptive capacity: 
? The resilience of local rural communities such as Pinolere to these changes and impacts is limited at present due mainly to a lack of awareness of the problem. Awareness campaigns are being conducted but the level of knowledge and attitude towards these issues by the population is still low and is below recognized levels of other European zones. The mirlo project (described below) provides a model for community involvement and indeed empowerment in natural resource management that simultaneously transmits messages on sustainability and climate change adaptation. ? Today?s Forest related challenges on the island ? are derived largely from an erroneous economic model aimed at replacing the natural forest stands with non-native species and overexploitation some 60-70 years ago when the forest was a source of primary resources (timber, fuelwood, non-timber forest products) and therefore the undergrowth was suppressed and there was a serious problem of deforestation. The new management regime associated with forests on the island is based primarily on fire prevention which, whilst important, can cause an economic dependency on forest fire fighting within the local communities leading to a vicious circle in which individuals deliberately cause fires in order to keep this revenue stream going. This forest policy problem has not been resolved. The Cabildo has recognized that we need new economic activity related to forests that provide new opportunities for communities near forested areas. The mirlo project is a good example of this new model as it involves direct employment generation for the community via forest recovery tasks and supports the commercialization of local products and services. ? The mirlo project also seeks to engage tourists in the appreciation of biodiversity values and local products. This approach is refreshing especially when set against the backdrop of a traditional tourism sector that fails to go beyond the limited and overexploited model of "sun, sea and beaches " which has led to mass construction along the coastline. The mirlo project aligns well with government strategies to promote a tourist industry model based on natural values, culture, traditions and sustainability.
Solution
Describe Your Solution: 

With the mirlo team we designed a 1st project focusing on the Pinolere community and more specifically on the Orotava Valley (http://mirlo.co/projects/corona-forestal/technical-requirements/) which covers an area of natural Canary Island pine woods located at a very high altitude. This area was left completely barren of trees by the middle of the 20th century and was then reforested during the 1950?s with Canary Island pine and Radiata pine from California. The introduction of Radiata pine gives rise to two main problems: 1) It inhibits the development of native woods and local biodiversity. 2) Californian pines have poor resistance to the gales which quite regularly sweep through Tenerife. These gales do not cause important damage to native woods which have adapted much better to them, but they do cause considerable damage to the Radiata pine en masse. When the wind blows these pine trees down, most of them die, the wood they provide is lost and the protection they offer the earth disappears with them. This explains why there are numerous trees in the area in which we are intervening which have been blown down by the wind and are gradually being cleaned and repopulated. Planting native trees means everybody wins! With the collaboration of interested individuals, we intend to plant native pines in the Orotava valley which will serve to improve the habitat and encourage the biodiversity of the area. Supporters get to generate a positive footprint, contribute to the local community and, if they are visitors the Canaries, they can get involved in a tourist pack to visit the project site. We intend to intervene in the area in order to restore the native wood by planting species which once formed part of the original wood. In the higher reaches we?ll plant woods of Canary Island pine together with other species that are inherent to that sort of wood, such as cedar trees. The restoration project has been designed by the Forestry Service of the Cabildo of Tenerife which has been responsible for managing the land for many decades and as such has amassed considerable experience in restoring the Islands? woodland ecosystems. Our years of expertise in producing plants, choosing species and defining technical details ensures that more than 90% of the trees we plant take root in normal conditions. The Cabildo of Tenerife will oversee the work and will provide the plants required for the reforestation. Support of the following organizations has also been secured: ? the people who manage the land and local honey producers ? mirlo offers a pot of local honey in their ?packs? ? active tourism companies (Pinolere), ? hotel owners (Tigaiga Hotel) ? university researchers (University of La Laguna) Through collaboration with the Tigaiga Hotel and the La Baranda House of Wine in Tenerife we were able to implement our first ?on-the-ground? experiences for 17 German tourists to visit mirlo?s first project site. The ?experiences? can be seen through the mirlo store online. They involve ?gift packs of locally produced honey, wine tasting sessions and visits to the local community area. The type of supporter which mirlo is aimed at will typically be an educated, environmentally concerned individual and or Corporate Sustainability Departments of medium to large companies. That said, due to the local nature of the projects and the value-add of empowerment within the local communities to implement projects of their desire, it is also envisaged that mirlo may be attractive to customers of a deep-seated interest in their local traditions and landscapes.

Results
Ecological Costs: 
- Unintended consequences, such as increased woody biomass that may add to the fuel capacity of the forest and augment fire spread
Ecological Benefit: 
- Increased biodiversity - Reduced forest fires - Increased water capture capacity
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit: 

- Biomass measurements - Area of forest standing - Protected area

Community/Social Cost: 
- Conflict between perception of the ?correct? use of a forest - Unintended consequences such as an increase in visitors and amenity use impact
Community/Social Benefit: 
- Increased awareness and support for sustainable forest management /reforestation - Increased organization of community groups - Revenue stream from rural tourism - Revenue stream from reforestation work - Revenue stream from honey industry
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit: 
- Number of community members aware of mirlo - Sources of income - Number of honey pots distributed
Economic Benefit: 

- Decreased reliance on institutional giving, grants and EU subsidies - Additional income streams - Example of a new, innovative, local, sustainable business model creation in Mirlo Positive Nature

Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit: 

- Community reports - Surveys

What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?: 

The mirlo concept is heavily reliant on local engagement and crowdfunding mechanisms. The market for social capital markets and crowdfunding initiatives is a global phenomena worthy of international conferences such as the Milken Institute Global Conference which has attracted CEO?s, world leaders and asset managers to highlight the fact that the growth of social capital markets and impact investments are growing as governments around the world are restricted by austerity measures and corporate philanthropy has proven to be insufficient. JP Morgan has suggested that investment into socially and environmental impact could become a trillion dollar asset class. A former Forbes writer dubbed the sector as ?The market that intersects at money and meaning is growing.? ? Moving from the general concept to the concrete focus of individuals funding through crowdfunding platforms; The Crowdfunding Industry Survey, conducted by Crowdsourcing.org found that there were ?452 crowdfunding platforms active worldwide by 2012. Most are based in North America and Western Europe. Together, these platforms raised almost $1.5 billion and successfully funded more than one million campaigns in 2011?. The University of California went on to estimate that the size of the crowdfunding market in 2013 was at least $3.98B. From sophisticated equity and debt structures to socially enhanced crowdfunding, the worlds of personal investing and concerned individuals are connecting. Knowledgeable, environmentally aware and/or locally concerned supporters are pursuing opportunities to achieve social returns. Whilst the proliferation of crowdfunding sites is a sign of market size it could also be conceived to be a barrier due to increased competition. What needs to be understood here is that crowdfunding is a mechanism. What participants are actually engaging in or funding changes radically. A market benchmarking exercise of the crowdfunding Websites show that very few have a social element and of those commendable examples that do offer the opportunity to invest in ethical projects fewer yet focus on environmental projects and even less on projects that can be local to the supporter. Examples are: ?Kickstarter? has a section for social projects, ?Kiva? is focused on developing nations and social needs, ?GiveForward? does allow for a personalization of funding opportunities aimed at supporting loved ones financially with medical bills but is not environmentally focused. In the environmental arena most projects that we have experienced are overseas, in far off corners of the world, which whilst highly necessary do not offer the opportunity for localized involvement. They are more often than not focused on a negative, risk message borne from campaigning for changes in negative behavior such as deforestation. It is only until recently that a narrative focused on driving a positive impact, for transformational change capable of benefitting the economy and the environment, has started to emerge. Examples of this new, positive approach can be seen in corporate sustainability strategies such as Unilver?s ?Plan for Sustainable Living?, Kingfishers? ?Net Positive? WWF?s new approach to ?Forest Positive? Impact and IKEA?s ?People, Plant Positive?. All of which have an element of commitment towards natural resources and community engagement but none of which have a specific outlet for maximizing synergies between the two. In short we believe that Mirlo Positive Nature has the idea and the innovation needed to complement our expertise and resources to be able to implement a climate adaptation solution for Tenerife?s forests.

Action
Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used: 

The mirlo project is an embryonic concept aimed at collaborating with an innovative young social enterprise based in Tenerife (Mirlo Positive Nature: www.mirlo.co ) in order to redesign the economic model at the annex of forests and tourism and improve social engagement and understanding of climate change issues. The idea was borne out of the devastating forest fires that swept the Mediterranean in 2012, the resulting public appetite to restore their local landscapes, lack of available funds for authorities such as the Cabildo to do so and the despondent feeling of helplessness generated by that economic crisis. There is a clear desire to act within the staff of the Cabildo. It is that desire that encouraged us to work on a collaborative proposal with Mirlo Positive Nature. The background to mirlo is based on the desire of the four foundering partners involved to leave a positive legacy and to turn an atmosphere of despondency in the face of the economic crisis into a platform for local empowerment and positive natural impact. We believe mirlo will be successful if it is able to create a brand that is popular, fashionable and desirable for users of social networks and Internet to form part of. The dependency on crowdfunding as opposed to institutional funds was attractive to us as a means to fund projects on-the-ground via a powerful collaborative social force for good. Mirlo offered the potential to educate on climate change issues at the same time as raising crowdfunding. Platforms such as ?Kickstarter? have been hugely successful and the projects that have used these sites have often hit their funding targets in record time and spectacular fashion. It could well be argued that they are victims of their own success as the trend for crowdfunding of IT, music and Internet products is not short of examples of sites and may be a market nearing its saturation point. The trend has spread into social and NGO functions, an example of which is ?Kiva.org? which is working well as a platform to obtain ?donors? for individual, identifiable, personal projects in developing nations. There are now several examples of Websites that have sprung up that seek to match donors with nonprofits and projects that match their unique perspective on life?s values. These sites are examples of the growing social capital market that make it easier for individual funders to find projects to fund and projects to find funders. There is however, very little crowdfunding airtime dedicated to projects of a positive natural impact, local conservation, tree planting schemes etc.. We have of course been exposed to NGO projects which request donations, carbon offsetting programs via airline Websites and corporate philanthropy aimed at natural resource conservation but none of these offered the chance to belong to something like mirlo. None of these offers the chance for the supporter to suggest their own project in their own locality, none of them allowed for the opportunity to get involved directly in a local community, to visit the actual project site, to experience the area or to invest in the community in quite the same way that mirlo can! How it works: Basically mirlo creates projects which naturally generate abundant positive footprint, both for the planet and for the local communities. They carry out activities that are necessary for the environment and which can potentially make a positive contribution. Mirlo is trying to show that, at the moment, in light of the current crisis and cut backs, the most effective way to raise money for these projects is through micro-sponsorship and crowdfunding. If mirlo can raise lots of small contributions from lots of people it can gather together the capital we need for specific environmental projects in Tenerife at the same time as acting as an educational platform and growing through a social network of concerned individuals -, faithful supporters. These projects divide the land up into quantifiable units (?Positive Nature sites?) which can be sponsored so that the areas of land are not anonymous: each supporter (customer) has their own area - the area that they have helped to improve - within the project, which will correspond to their donation/investment. The supporter can see it in Google Earth and will be able to visit it, as long as it is not inside an intensely protected zone. Each donation, depending on the amount, gives the supporter the right to enjoy local experiences and products. They can discover products that are produced locally which translates into a means for us to ensure the license to operate by sharing the benefits of the project with the inhabitants of the communities in which we intervene. By doing so, the mirlo project hopes to expand the culture of reciprocity and ensure that the local communities consider our projects to be something of value, something positive. At least 70% of the donations/packs will be transformed straight into positive footprints on-the-ground. Another part of the money is used to cover operating costs, communication and the creation of products and services.

Climate hazard of concern: 
Other
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?: 

A project aimed at reforesting the islands was launched in the middle of the 20th century. This involved the creation of plantations of Canary Island Pine y pinus radiata (commonly known in the Canaries as ?Radiata pine?), a variety of fast-growing Californian pine. The objective of these plantations was to produce wood and to satisfy the demand of the local and national market. Land was planted which until then had been given over to livestock, and they also took over areas of ?monteverde?, a type of degraded woodland formed by native species. We have learnt however that reforestation using non-indigenous trees impoverishes the local biodiversity. What?s more, extraneous trees do not adapt well to the environment, which creates another entire series of problems. We are going to act in the area in order to restore the native wood by planting species which once formed part of the original wood. In the higher reaches we?ll plant woods of Canary Island pine together with other species that are inherent to that sort of wood, such as cedar trees.

How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

The project, which focuses on Tenerife and more specifically on the Orotava Valley?, covers an area of natural Canary Island pine woods located at a very high altitude. This area was left completely barren of trees by the middle of the 20th century and was then reforested during the 50s with Canary Island pine and Radiata pine from California. The introduction of Radiata pine gives rise to two main problems: It inhibits the development of native woods and local biodiversity. Californian pines have poor resistance to the gales which quite regularly sweep through Tenerife. These gales do not cause important damage to native woods which have adapted much better to them, but they do cause considerable damage to the Radiata pine en masse. When the wind blows these pine trees down, most of them die, the wood they provide is lost and the protection they offer the earth disappears with them. This explains why there are numerous trees in the area in which we are intervening which have been blown down by the wind and are gradually being cleaned and repopulated. The restoration project has been designed by the Forestry Service of the Cabildo of Tenerife (the local Council) which has been responsible for managing the land for many decades and as such has amassed considerable experience in restoring the Islands? woodland ecosystems. Their years of expertise in producing plants, choosing species and defining technical details ensures that more than 90% of the trees they plant take root in normal conditions. The Cabildo of Tenerife will oversee the work carried out and will provide the plants required for the reforestation efforts. We are going to improve the habitat and encourage biodiversity: The Canary Islands are a hot spot for global biodiversity and numerous species are under threat. The woods are home to a considerable part of this biodiversity and we are going to help to restore and maintain it with the funds obtained through the mirlo project. We are going to extend the pine woods, thereby continuing the work that began more than fifty years ago. We will recover an area that is of prime importance in recharging the aquifer. We are going to recover an area that is of prime importance in recharging the aquifer. Tenerife is highly populated and as such it consumes more water each year than the amount the rains can supply to the aquifer. Creating more woods will ensure that more rainwater will reach the aquifer thereby helping to alleviate this situation. We will recover 35.8 hectares of Canary Island woodland. There are 90,000 hectares of forested land in the Canary Islands that needs restoring: with this project we hope to restore 35.8 of them (3.7 hectares in the 1st phase). We will balance the Canary Island sustainability index. The Canaries have currently one of the world?s worst sustainability indexes, as it consumes resources equivalent to eleven times their territory. By increasing the surface area of the woods, we will help to counter this imbalance and to turn this situation around. We will help to preserve the area?s different species of bees. We will collaborate with local beekeepers and honey producers. Some of the plants that we are going to introduce contain nectar, which means that we are going to help preserve the area?s species of bees and do something positive for the beekeepers and the honey producers. - We aim to plant cedar trees to help the ring ouzels (mirlo capiblanco) disseminate these fantastic trees and to take them out of the list of threatened species. - We aim to generate a positive carbon footprint which will offset 14,320 tons of CO2.

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?: 

Below are some examples of the ?pack?s that benefit the local community that supporters can contribute to finance the reforestation project on mirlo (http://mirlo.co/store ): - Enjoy wild flower honey made by native bees of Tenerife. This options help support local beekeepers and the work they do taking care of the black Canary Island honeybee. - Learn how to build a cottage with a thatched roof and how to prepare a traditional-style gofio ball, and enjoy an aperitif of local products. This option supports the work of the Pinolere Cultural Association. For the last 25 years this Association has been striving to recuperate and to spread the word about traditional Canary Island culture. - Savor regional products and take some honey home. The funder has the opportunity to visit ?La Baranda?, a place where they will find out all about the history of Tenerife wine and the Honey Museum. This option supports local producers.

How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

We believe that environmental projects should make a contribution to the local economy, which is why we liked the fact that mirlo created premium options for funders to access locally produced goods (e.g. honey from Pinolere community) and experiences (e.g. visits to the reforestation sites using local adventure guides and companies). Everything's produced or provided by people who live near to where the project is taking place and who sympathize with the mirlo philosophy.

Scale
Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?: 

Initially the geographic area in which mirlo will operate will be Spain, with the first project already launched in Tenerife. However the plan is to encourage ideas for projects to come in from the social network of followers and, if the technical team considers them to be feasible, to bid for funding to pull them off and work with local teams to implement them. We believe supporters will be attracted to mirlo as a brand, as a young fresh and fashionable idea, as a social profiling opportunity and because the idea of crowdfunding and local empowerment are powerful forces that have not yet been brought into play to achieve conservation projects. It?s new, it?s positive and it sends a message that the supporter can take a more active role in local issues and has the potential to decrease the dependency on political or institutional financing which during the current economic crisis may not be readily available any more Mirlo Positive Nature envisages a demand from Corporate Social Responsibility departments and Sustainability Strategies of corporate and medium sized business. In this respect the hope is that the platform could become a unifying force for public and private sectors to work on climate adaptation strategies and fund specific projects. Mirlo has the potential to brand such activities under one roof and allow a bridge for common initiatives between a company, general public, local communities and public institutions such as the Cabildo. Beyond the growing potential for links into Corporate Social Responsibility strategies already mentioned, we believe that the real value of mirlo is its potential as a crowdfunding platform and social community in its own right. Through an advanced on-line community platform and social supporters will be able to locate their donations via interactive maps and Apps, grow a supporters profile and demonstrate commitment through continuous support and on-line activity. All of which would serve mirlo to generate further interest in on-the-ground projects and inevitably generate further funds. Mirlo Positive Nature is working now. The current model has attracted almost 500 Facebook and Twitter followers from UK, Germany, Spain and Argentina and obtained donations towards our project ? ?Corona Forestal?.

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