DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605310000190

Abstract: The conifer forests in the Mediterranean Arc have been subjected to overuse by humans since ancient times. Some species which took refuge in almost inaccessible places have managed to survive, but the area of other species has been greatly reduced as a result of agriculture, livestock raising, illegal felling and, in some cases, fire. The firs are no exception and today some species are little more than witnesses of the past. The Abies pinsapo forests are an example of this, as the last specimens of this species are found in just three enclaves in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and a further two in the north of Morocco. Until the middle of the 20th century, the pinsapo forests were subjected to major human pressure, and in Spain, they were under constant threat of overuse until they were acquired by the State. Many conservation efforts have been undertaken on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, and the fact that all the pinsapo forests are covered by some form of protection keeps them safe from the threat of inappropriate use and exploitation. The forests are now stabilised and are recovering after years of intensive grazing and use of their timber for construction, firewood and charcoal making. However, these relict forests face new threats such as climate change, arson and the appearance of pests. The limited area occupied by these forests makes them highly vulnerable to any disturbance.