The Sierra de Guadarrama reflects on its future

22 October, 2020
Image of the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park

By Elisa Oteros-Rozas, Concepción Piñeiro, María López-Rodríguez, María Heras, Hug March and Isabel Ruiz-Mallén, members of TURBA research group.


  • As part of the ENVISION international research project, a group of people gathered on 9 and 10 October to reflect on five possible future scenarios for the Sierra de Guadarrama in a workshop organized by the UOC Internet Interdisciplinary Institute’s (IN3) TURBA Lab (Urban Transformation and Global Change Laboratory) in close collaboration with Altekio association.
  • Amongst the strategies prioritized to guarantee a solid future for the Sierra are education and communication to raise social awareness, mobility planning prioritizing public transport and fostering sustainable farming that highlights local produce.


After several months of preparation, and despite the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 51 people met online over two days to reflect on possible future scenarios for the Sierra de Guadarrama. The two co-directors of Sierra de Guadarrama National Park and members of major environmental associations, sports organizations, local development groups, town councils, farmers and even representatives of the arts, education and research, amongst others, gathered for collective reflection.

With climate change, participation in the governance model for conservation and recreational use as the main topics of debate, the participants were able to envisage the status of the Sierra in 2040.

On the basis of a common assessment of the current socio-ecological conditions and the factors driving change in recent years, they weighed up what could happen in the next twenty years. They discussed the question of how and whether the area might continue to contribute to the quality of life of those who currently enjoy the ecosystem services it provides and who would lose or gain by them, whilst also identifying the advantages and disadvantages of the various futures envisaged.

Amongst the five scenarios contemplated, they also imagined the ideal situation and drew up short-, medium- and long-term measures and strategies to attain the desirable and avoid the undesirable aspects of the five scenarios worked on.


Three strategies for Sierra de Guadarrama

The group prioritized three strategies: (1) education and awareness-raising regarding socio-environmental issues, including a communication strategy for social change; (2) sustainable mobility planning, fostering public transport over private; and (3) the promotion of sustainable farming activities with a positive impact on the ecosystem, as well as placing the focus on local produce.

Other proposals include improving participation in governance, such as through the setting up of Board of Trustee working groups, research into the impact of the recreational use of various parts of the Sierra, including citizen science, controlled grazing in firebreak areas for forest fire prevention, and extension of the protected area and improvement of its connectivity with other areas.


Envision, an inclusive conservation project

The meeting is part of ENVISION, an international inclusive conservation project, funded by ERA-NET COFUND as part of the HORIZON 2020 programme, with additional support from the Belmont Forum.

Sierra de Guadarrama National Park is one of four areas under study since last year and until 2021, which researchers from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland, the United States and Spain are working on to come up with types of conservation management that are efficient and include different viewpoints.

The Spanish team, organized by the TURBA research group, at the UOC’s Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, have carried out interviews and surveys over the last year and a half, and will continue to create spaces for meetings and discussion to support the management of the Sierra de Guadarrama.


Project funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation / Ministry of Universities and the State Agency for Research (2018 “International Joint Programming” R+ D+I Project) (PCI2018-092958)
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