LIFE Econnect - Improving connectivity of Natura 2000 network in mountain areas

LIFE12 NAT/ES/000766

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Ricardo GONZÁLEZ LUNA
Tel: 942202315
Fax: 942208770
Email: gonzalez_ri@cantabria.es

Project description:


Alto Campoo lies at the top of the valley formed by the Cordel and Híjar mountain ranges, and crowned by the Tres Mares peak (2 200 m), in northern Spain. This high mountain area contains a wide diversity of ecosystems and priority habitats and includes two Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and one Special Protected Area (SPA).

The development of a ski resort has resulted in a general degradation of the area and has reduced species diversity through the destruction of vegetation and the loss and compaction of soil, which prevents recolonisation by native vegetation.

The decline in habitat quality for wildlife due to landscape fragmentation and the colonisation of opportunistic species has also reduced wildlife populations. Variations in livestock grazing pressure have resulted in soil loss and harm to peat lands, while in other areas, overgrowth of heather has reduced the breeding habitat of such bird species as partridge and hen harrier.


The main objective of this project is to improve connectivity between two SACs and a SPA in a high mountain area through management, habitat restoration and the improvement of soil permeability at a ski resort. The restoration process focuses on the regeneration of vegetation through seeding, transplantation, improving soil permeability, and water retention. Features such as cattle fences will also be removed or visibly identified.

The specific objectives are to:

  • Strengthen the eastern extreme population of the grey partridge (Perdix perdix) in Cantabria;
  • Guarantee the quality of habitats of the hen harrier (Circus cyaneus);
  • Reduce erosion by improving moorlands, pastures and riparian habitats;
  • Improve soil permeability in the Alto Campoo ski station;
  • Develop tourism and livestock management models that are compatible with the Natura 2000 network;
  • Raise awareness among users of the fragility and vulnerability of high mountain habitats.
  • Expected results:

  • Eradication of the causes and practices responsible for the degradation of habitats, water quality and the dynamics of wildlife populations;
  • Recovery of 11.5 ha of heathland (4330, 4090 and 4060);
  • Recovery of 180 ha of mountain pastures (6140 and 6160);
  • Improvement in the quality and transparency of the waters of the Rio Hijar throughout the year;
  • Improvement of riparian habitats (6430, 91EO* and 6230*) along 10% of the riverbanks of the river Hijar (46 000 m2);
  • Conservation of existing bogs (7110) in an extension of about 6 ha;
  • A biodiversity management plan for the ski resort that improves the conservation status of habitats and species in the two SACs and one SPA;
  • A livestock grazing management plan drawn up with local farmers, which is in line with the maintenance of heathland habitats and related species;
  • Improvement in hen harrier habitat (increased area suitable for reproduction) and a reduction in the risk of collision with permanent features by removing or visible identifying 7 km of fencing;
  • Increased breeding population of hen harrier in at least one area;
  • A 10% increase in the local grey partridge (Perdix perdix hispaniensis) population;
  • Raised awareness and wide dissemination of best practices among around 30% of the annual users (130 000) of the ski resort;
  • Greater acceptance and understanding among the local population of the Natura 2000 network;
  • Rural tourism and traditional activities promoted as a tool for the preservation of high mountain habitats and species;
  • A bank of seeds and plants that will facilitate long-term maintenance or new restoration work;
  • Presentation of Econnect as a pilot example for other European mountain regions with similar problems.



Environmental issues addressed:


Biodiversity issues - Ecological coherence


animal corridor‚  protected area‚  mountainous area

Target species

 Circus cyaneus   Perdix perdix hispaniensis   

Target Habitat types

  • 6430 - Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
  • 7110 - Active raised bogs
  • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"
  • 4030 - European dry heaths
  • 4060 - Alpine and Boreal heaths
  • 4090 - Endemic oro-Mediterranean heaths with gorse
  • 6130 - Calaminarian grasslands of the Violetalia calaminariae
  • 6140 - Siliceous Pyrenean Festuca eskia grasslands
  • 6160 - Oro-Iberian Festuca indigesta grasslands

Natura 2000 sites

SCI ES1300021 Valles altos del Nansa y Saja y Alto Campoo
SPA ES0000250 Sierra de Híjar
SPA ES0000251 Sierra del Cordel y cabeceras del Nansa y del Saja



Coordinator Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Ordenación del Territorio y Urbanismo del Gobierno de Cantabria
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Cantabrian ministry of environment, spatial planning and urban development (Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Ordenación del Territorio y Urbanismo del Gobierno de Cantabria) is responsible for the protection of the environment through the environmental assessment of projects, installations, plans and programmes, restoration actions in deteriorated areas, and the prevention of pollution through the analysis and control of waste, air and soil.
Partners Sociedad Regional Cantabra de Promocion Turistica S.A., Spain Sociedad Española de Ornitología, Spain


Project reference LIFE12 NAT/ES/000766
Duration 01-SEP-2013 to 31-AUG -2017
Total budget 1,930,712.00 €
EU contribution 965,356.00 €
Project location Cantabria(España)


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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version