RCE Galicia - 2021

Outdoor Classroom Panels at the Froxán Community Conserved Area
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Outdoor Classroom Panels at the Froxán Community Conserved Area
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Galicia
Contributing organization(s) : 
Froxán Indigenous and Community Conserved Area (ICCA)
Fundación Montescola
University of Santiago de Compostela
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Lucia R. Cao
Organizational Affiliation: 
Format of project: 
Outdoor nature panels and classroom
Language of project: 
Galician/Portuguese, Spanish, English
Date of submission:
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Community Conserved Areas (https://www.iucn.org/content/community-conserved-areas)
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Aichi Biodiversity Targets
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Galicia, Lousame, Froxán
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Froxán 5
Lousame 15212
Galicia (Spain)
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Froxán Common Woodlands are a community land of 100 hectares (1 km2) that is cared for directly by the families that live in this village of the Galician municipality of Lousame, tracing their common roots centuries back. In spite of the influence of invasive species, the community's territory includes several priority natural habitats under the EU Habitats Directive (including Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior, Temperate Atlantic wet heaths with Erica ciliaris and Erica tetralix and Arborescent matorral with Laurus nobilis) and other natural habitats such as Galicio-Portuguese oak woods with Quercus robur and Quercus pyrenaica, and caves with numerous bat colonies.
In recent years, the Community has been active in engaging the wider society in its conservation and restoration efforts, particularly working with children, schools, families and environmental organizations. These groups have assisted in reclaiming degraded areas affected by mining activity and invasive species, through participatory reforestation with native species. Through these activities, the community is developing an ongoing programme for education and sustainability (“Montescola”), showcasing the potential of community land-management in addressing pressing environmental and social issues. These issues include climate change, wildfires, invasive species, land and water contamination and degradation, alternatives to rural depopulation, and cultural continuity among traditional rural communities in Galicia. These efforts were recognized in 2017 with the inclusion of Froxán in the ICCA Registry, being among the first two Community Areas in Spain to participate in the ICCA Registry. Froxán was simultaneously included in the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) after going through a national peer-review process. Froxán is also acknowledged as a Natural Site of Educational Interest (Lugar Natural de Interés Pedagógico, LNIP).
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
In Galicia common land accounts for 1/3 of Galicia's territory (approximately 650.000 hectares) that are directly managed by traditional assembly democracy communities, significantly contributing to the livelihood of more than half a million
people. However, this peculiar survival of such an ancient institution of land stewardship is threaded by many of the pressing issues regarding sustainability in Galicia, including rural depopulation, loss of biodiversity, environmentally destructive projects, etc. These factors, together with the lack of understanding of Galician commons (or even general knowledge about their existence), hampers the potential of common land for sustainable development.
The Outdoor panels initiative is part of a broader project by RCE Galicia that seeks to mobilize ESD to address this pressing issue, and building public attention, interest and active engagement on common land management and sustainable usage of natural resources, or "gifts", as traditionally considered. The programme seeks to develop a long term connection between children/adolescents and their families with the land and its sustainable development.
January, 2021
The Froxán Indigenous and Community Conserved Area (ICCA) has been a pioneer in community-based conservation efforts in Galicia and Europe, and its work and good-practiced have been widely acknowledged. Froxán was featured as a case study in the 2020 Local Biodiversity Outlooks 2 (LBO-2) that is published by the Secretariat of the Convention for Biological Diversity at UN Environment. The report (published in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) includes a case study on the restoration work done at the Froxán commons (p. 176). A longer case study with pictures from the peat wetland can also be accessed at the Local Biodiversity Outlooks website (https://localbiodiversityoutlooks.net/case-studies/climate-change-adaptation-restoring-community-common-lands-in-galicia-spain/).
Since 2017, Froxán has removed 26 hectares of invasive Eucalyptus species from its territory and almost erradicated Acacia species, nurturing the return of native forests and biodiversity through wider engagement of schools, families, volunteers and the community at large. Froxán is also home to the "Brigadas deseucaliptizadoras", a 1,000 strong environmental volunteer initiative by Verdegaia. The set of outdoor nature classroom panels allow the Froxán ICCA and other RCE Galicia to better explain and educate about the progress and achievements of community-based conservation in Froxán providing a basis for wider replication and learning.
1. To understand and disseminate the importance of Galician common land stewardship, its democratic assembly governance, and multifunctional forestry uses, together with the traditions, costumes and way of life particular to this form of land management and conservation, in terms of transitioning to a more sustainable and resilient future.
2. To experiment with and value the educational, leisure, cultural, therapeutical and social possibilities of common land, to help building sustainable and resilient communities, alternative lifestyles and ecosystemic conservation and improvement.
3. To use the democratic and collaborative framework of common land management as a tool to develop cross‐cutting competencies relevant to ESD, including conflict resolution, collaborative problem‐solving, etc.
4. To foster respect and sensibility toward natural and cultural heritage, through critical thinking, self‐awareness and social engagement regarding the consequences of rural desertification, abandonment of common lands, destruction of biodiversity in relation to our day‐to‐day lifestyle and practices.
5. Offer concrete tools, resources and applied knowledge for the sustainable usage, conservation and protection of the rich biodiversity kept in Galician common lands, building new and creative solutions, alternatives and models of good practices to address the challenges to sustainability.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The Froxán ICCA common land territory is an outdoor classroom for ESD in its own merit. To better explain and interpret its history, habtitats, interventions and regenerative processes, RCE Galicia designed and produced with the Froxán ICCA, Montescola and the University of Santiago de Compostela (through its ACBiodiv Research Group - Análise e Consevación da Biodiversidade) a series of 10 outdoor panels (A1 size: 59.4 x 84.1cm) that have been installed throughout the ICCA's territory:
1. Welcome, itinerary, history of Froxán, community conserved areas and habitats.
2. “Eira Nova”, traditional agriculture practices and history of eucalyptus eradication
3. “Casa da Susana”, a WW2 tungsten mine site and area restored by school children
4. “Costaneira”, ground zero of native forest regeneration and green fire-brakes concept
5. “Ramo Curvo”, a pond habitat and explanation of the stone pastoral enclosure
6. “Campo de Lamas”, the important of peatlands and their restoration process
7. “Xiroña”, highest point in Froxán with rich local folklore on witch gatherings
8. “Portiño”, a traditional watermill and importance of riverine habitats
9. “Castiñeiros”, explaining the impacts of mining and restoration of mining sites
10. “Chan de Avelán”, the story of a 1527 watermill and how it disappeared
Each panel includes on the right side a description to species particular to each location, while text and images help explain the local history and importance of each part of the Froxán Commons and the processes that have shaped landscapes and their restoration. Currently, panels are only displayed in Galician language, but the same contents are being edited into a "Guide to the Froxán Commons" that will be available for free download (and possibly also in print) in English, Spanish and Galician.
Size of academic audience: 
The panels have become an important resource to educate around the importance and strategies of community-based conservation in Froxán and Galicia. While visitors contemplate an static moment of the long-term process of regeneration, the panels provide a broader interpretative layer to landscape, showing its dynamic evolution, threats and how society can become actively engaged in bringing about regenarative change. These allow both for self-guided visits and also aid guided visits and explanations to students and other visitors by local-community members, adding a wealth of graphic educational resources.
Lessons learned: 
- Collaboration between local practitioners and traditional knowledge-holder with scientific/research institutions has been important in the development of rigorous and locally-grounded educational materials.
- Involving volunteers in the project has led to greater sensitivity and interest on the outdoor educational experience bringing in more visitors and generating broader interest.
- Self-guided educational resources are also important to allow continuous educational outreach options in a community-based fully-volunteer project, in which community-members at times find it hard to have time to receive and guide visitors.
Key messages: 
While 'doing' natural regeneration and conservation work is an essential ESD activity in the Froxán, learning about the processes and dynamics of what has been done and can be carried further is equally important and has enourmous educational potential to carry lessons and experiences further. The Froxán Outdoor classroom panel project achieves just that.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The project is integrated in several ongoing long-term programmes of RCE Galicia, namely:
- The School‐Community Twinning Programme, that consists of pairing of a common land community (there are 2,800 common land communities in Galicia, with territories ranging from 10 hectares to several thousand hectares) with a primary or secondary school, preferably a school in the same municipality or from a nearby town or city. The programme seeks to develop a long term connection between children/adolescents and their families with the land and its sustainable development.
- The Participatory Protected Areas Programme, aimed at making possible direct participation of the public, and particularly schools and other educational settings, in the design, planning and management of (community) conserved and protected areas, actively engaging in defining the habitats and perimeter, performing field work to identify the species present in the area and the protective measures to be implemented, contributing to legally binding conservation plans that govern the areas and the definition of sustainable uses by local communities and visitors.
- The ESD Classroom and Center for Understanding of the Commons, a project to facilitate its educational activities embedded in nature, following the education in nature approach.
The European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) kindly provided support for panel design and production through its "10,000 native trees for Froxán Community" project grant. Fundación Santander also kindly supported restoration work in the Froxán Indigenous and Community Conserved Area.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon Panels_Casa_Susana_panel_4.jpg (4.65 MB) Outdoor panel at the "Casa da Susana" site in Froxán Montescola
Image icon Panels_Casa_Susana_panel_5.jpg (3.93 MB) Outdoor panel at the "Casa da Susana" site in Froxán Montescola
Image icon Panels_Casa_Susana_panel_group_picture.JPG (4.43 MB) Volunteers from the "Brigadas deseucaliptizadoras" at the "Casa da Susana" panel Montescola
Image icon Panel_1_Froxan_xeral.jpg (4.14 MB) General welcome outdoor panel Montescola
Image icon Panel_2_Eira Nova.jpg (3.49 MB) "Eira Nova" panel on traditional agricultural practices Montescola
Image icon Panel_3_Susana-teste.jpg (2.3 MB) "Casa da Susana" panel on the outdoor nature education and the impacts of mining Montescola
Image icon Panel_4_Costaneira.jpg (3.27 MB) "Costaneira" panel on forest fires, green fire-brakes and environmental volunteers Montescola
"Ramo Curvo" panel on silvopastoral practices, biocultural heritage and ponds Montescola
Image icon Panel_8_Portiño.jpg (4.18 MB) "Portiño" panel on riverine ecosystems and traditional watermills Montescola
Image icon Panel_10_Chán de Avelán-teste.jpg (2.19 MB) "Chán de Avelán" panel on the impacts of mining Montescola
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level