Trees play an essential role in the fight against pollution in cities. Compostela has many green spaces with various characteristics, from parks, gardens to forests which turn the Galician capital throughout the seasons.

Unique trees, special landscape areas, MANY THINGS TO BE DISCOVERED! in a city which has 52m2 of green area per inhabitant, it is above the recommendations of the World Health Organization (15m2).

The PEFC actively works to raise awareness about the importance of trees in city living.

What to know?
What to see?
The cathedral’s timber
Tanneries
The role of PEFC
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What to know?

TREES AND URBAN FORESTS act as air and water filters, removing the harmful pollutants, store carbon and contribute to improve the local climate. 

They make the habitat of great amount of plants and animals, and help to keep and increase the biodiversity. They also reduce the acoustic pollution. 

The availability of green spaces encourages lively and healthy life style, improves the mental health, prevents diseases and facilitates relationships among people. 

These, among others, are some of the advantages which generate in life, more than half of the global population, who live in cities and metropolitan area. These are only 3% of the Earth´s surface but represents about 70% of world carbon emissions and consume more of 60% of the resources. It is expected in the year 2030, 60% of population will live in metropolis (UN). 

What to see?

Compostela has many green spaces with very different characteristics. Here you can check the natural heritage of Santiago de Compostela; and here, an estimation of the distance and time walking between them.

We invite you to get to know deeply two of those green spaces:

Monte Pedroso

Parque da Alameda

Paisaxe Santiago de Compostela

O Pedroso

O Monte Pedroso is located about 3km West of Compostela and it has a surface of 106 hectares, 85 of which are with trees. It is classified as ASSET OF LANDSCAPE INTEREST (AEIP) in the catalogue of Galician landscape, in which you will find chestnuts trees, oaks or birches, Atlantic forest species.

If you like city parks, you should go to A Granxa do Xesto. There you will find a cafe, a playground, hiking trails which go up to the peak of Pedroso, from where you could enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Oaks, chestnuts, pines and birches are the most common species in the park, there are also some yew, hazel, hawthorn and Californian cedar. Water comes out from the source forming small lakes where a great variety of herbaceous duckweed (Lemnssp), yellow flag iris (Iris pseudocorus), common reed grass(Phargmitesaustralis), white water lily (Nymphaea alba) gorse (Ulexeuropaeus), broom(Cytisusscoparius), genista (Genista florida), wild roses(Rosa sp) several species of heather (Ericasp).

However, if you prefer a more rural space, go towards A Selva Negra. It consists on an urban park with leafy vegetation, as its name indicates. The park was created in XVII century by the neighbours of Marrozos, Aríns e O Eixo, by command of the Concello de Santiago and Convent of Santa Clara, who owned the land. The property has an extension of 22 ha and in where oaks, birches, willows, alders, hazelnuts, cork oak, bays and pines were planted, as well as fruit trees such as apple trees, pear trees, peach trees and plum trees; from Miradoiro do Alto we can observe all these.  Near the woodland, there were also farmland and grazing land, that´s why there is a fence along the land. 

A Alameda

In the Alameda, you will find many different trees included in the CATÁLOGO GALEGO DE ÁRBORES SENLLEIRAS. If you want to know the trees and bushes, their common and scientific names, their type, origin, distribution and their location, click Here. If not, on your way you will find explanatory plaques in different languages, braille included.

The history of this park is closely linked to the city. The origins of Alameda dates back to XII century, when Diego Xelmírez (the first archbishop of Compostela and great promoter of the cathedral and the Jacobean pilgrimage) order to bury the remains of Saint Susana in a chapel located in the Outeiro dos Poldros. This reserve was located short distance to the medieval city, but outside the fortress. However, as time went by, the Alameda turned into the link between the different areas of the city: Old town, Expansion area and Campus .

The Romanic chapel underwent several refurbishments over the years, as well as its surroundings. The area was filled with 300 oak trees, that´s why it is called Carballeira de Santa Susana. As in all Galician oak fields, not only the religious procession took place, but also all those events which were not well received inside the fortress, as selling cattle, whose use remained until 1971.

In the 19th century different projects were launched, whose aim was expanding this location of urban recreation and that shaped the place until today´s settings.

The Paseo Central started being built in 1835 in parallel the way that communicated Compostela with Pontevedra (current Juan Carlos I avenue). In which you can differentiate 3 roads, separated by woodland (camellias, linden and palms) and cast iron benches from the emblematic factory of Sargadelos, symbol of Galician identity. Each path was used by a social class: The poor classes on the right, the upper classes in the middle and the professors and clergy on the left.

The gardens are geometrically organised, having different buildings, as a pond or a bandstand. Among the woodland, a sequoia and a magnolia stand out, as well as commemorative specimens of several events and some coming from donations with its own explanatory plaque.

O Paseo da Ferradura completes the design of Alameda. Its name is due to its shape, as it surrounds the oak field of Saint Susana by L, N and O. By L the Leon´s path goes by bordered by several rows of oak trees and the best views to the cathedral. By O, Letras Galegas´path communicates by great stairs to campus, which is other green area of the city. In this place there are some special trees, as “La Perona”, linked to the visit of Eva Duarte de Perón to Santiago, some lawson´s cypress, Caucasian spruces, cedars or Canary palm trees, among others. Finally ,in the Boveda´s path, (which was called like this in honour of one of the patrons of the works) where the Banco dos Namorados is located, thanks to its concave shape allows two people listen to each other clearly in spite of being 14 m apart, each of them seated in an end. There are many people who still sit down to check the acoustic effect. 

In the Alameda many sculptures and monuments are located. The current primary school Saint Susana, which was recently restored using the wood as a main element, is one of the most important buildings in the park. It was built for a Galician Regional Exhibition in 1909, however, one of the most popular elements of the Alameda is the sculpture of the “Duas en punto” or “Das Marias”. It was placed in 1994 in memory of the sisters Maruxa and Coralia Fandiño Ricart, who died the previous decade. They were the daughters of a seamstress and a cobbler and siblings of members of the National Confederation Labour (CNT), an anarcho-syndicalist union prosecuted by the Franco regime. They suffered from harassment and violence by the police force, nevertheless as a sign of rebellious and freedom, they used to go out for a walk in the city at two o´clock every day, using really colourful clothes, smoking and giving compliments to men, which was frowned upon at that time. Thanks to a popular fundraising, they both rest in peace in the Boisaca cemetery.

Coralia (esquerda) e Maruxa (dereita).

The cathedral’s timber

The cathedral has an important timber cultural heritage, among other values. The Galician Innovation and Technological Timber Services Centre (CIS-Timber), which is part of the Galician Forestry Industry Agency (XERA), and the Cathedral Foundation have signed a collaboration agreement to provide consultancy services on the diagnose, structure, recovery and design recommendations on construction design, amongst other topics.

The results of this collaboration allowed the maintenance of many original features, such as the oak yokes on inspected bells, which continue in good working condition three centuries after being installed. 

In other cases, such as on apsis’s semi-domes, chestnut structural timber has replaced the existing semi-domes, which were made with other materials which presented numerous infiltration issues.

The diagnose of the canopy structure was of special interest, as it presented an important structural problem which was possible to repair.

Source: XERA, Axencia Galega da Industria Forestal.

Some of these interventions were presented at the Lignomad Congress, a forum for the promotion of timber and other lignocellulosic construction materials. The Galician television channel broadcast a program on “Discovering Santiago de Compostela’s Cathedral” which presented the result of the restoration work.

Along your Camino you will be able to see for yourself the relationship with other locations such as San Carlos’s Castle (Finisterre), and we will tell you about the importance of the forestry and timber sector in construction, among other things.

Tanneries

A Ponte Sarela’s tanning factory

In your Camino you will discover the role that trees play in diverse sectors such as the textile, fishing, or construction fields.

In Ponte Sarela’s centre you will see the ruins of a tanning factory, nowadays partially restored for residential use. Discover with us the relationship of forests with the tanning process.

Compostela, Allariz or Noia were some of the main leather industry hubs in Galicia, but practically all parishes had a tannery. These local tanneries did not normally handle all phases of the tanning process, but they complemented one another. It is in the first half of the seventeenth century that this model changes, moving to privately owned factories with employees where all tanning processes were completed. Compostela registered 25 of those factories at the beginning of the nineteenth century, all of them located in the outskirts of the city due to the bad odours that tanning activities generate. This specific factory was built in 1790 and was active until 1959. 

Tanneries made writing parchments, liquid-containing furs, pipe bags, livestock leads, saddlebags, clothing accessories such as belts, waistcoats, gloves or shoes, and even transmission belts for the first types of machinery. 

Initially, leather came from the local abattoirs, but eventually they started to get imports from America via A Coruna’s port (around 24,000 annual pieces of leather). They used to work with cow or veal as well as sheep and calf leather.

In this specific tannery soles, insteps, fronts and tongues were made for all types of shoes from cow or veal leather.

Water was essential in the tanning process, so tanneries were located riverside for that reason (in this case river Sarela). They can also be found mountainside, were they made provision of oak or chestnut rind for the tanning process. With increasing demand, the local forest’s raw materials were insufficient, and this evolved in a Galician-wide rind trade.

The tanning process involved added leftovers in the first place: fur was cleaned in the river, was covered with lime, and then it was razored. Next, they would be immersed for four or six months in stone basins containing a water and acidifying mix, each hide separated by chestnut or oak rind. Hides were placed with the previously furry side down in the first stone basin and facing up in the second basin. They were finally aired and pounded to even out the piece of hide. The process continued with soft hides (sheep or calf), which were smothered in sardine oil to soften them.

The use of oak and chestnut rind is justified for its tanning concentration, a chemical element that favours skin collagen molecule union, hardening it (in other words, it tans it). Rind was scattered in the so-called rind mills to make the process easier. These mills consisted of a circular wall with approximately 30-40 cm of height and 3-4 m of diameter, around which an animal rolled a millstone which would grind the rind inside the spout. Five kilograms of rind were needed for each kilo of hide. Chemical tannings such as chromium were introduced in late nineteenth century, as well as other tanning methods, as they shortened the process. While the tanning of one single hide used to take 410 days using the traditional method, it would take 180 days using new methods. 

Tanning factories used all spoils from the process and sold them on. Used rind was applied as kindling; leftovers to make glue for carpenters and for paper factories; and discarded fur was used for making brushes and paintbrushes.

The role of PEFC

The PEFC actively works to raise awareness about the importance of trees and forests in city living. Proper short, medium, and long-term planning of the management of urban green spaces is fundamental for the application of environmental, social, and economic criteria. In this way it can be guaranteed that greener cities contribute to the climate change mitigation, the health of their population, and many other benefits.

PEFC’s Directive PEFCST1003:2018 “Sustainable Forestry Management” provides the interpretation to develop regional, national, and sub-national requirements, as well as rules applicable to “Trees Outside Forests” (TOF-Treesoutsideforests).

There is wide global diversity of TOF systems. Some are natural or seminatural ecosystems with ecological complexity and systemic services equivalent to natural forests. On the other hand, they are individual trees in fields or lined trees. For this reason, PEFC establishes different requirements, categories, thresholds, and criteria for the objective distinction of different TOF systems.

The PEFC logo helps ensure compliance with the Sustainable Development Objectives 2030 through sustainable management models, from an environmental, social, and economic perspective, making the role of forests and of the forestry sector visible in the circular bioeconomy.

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Initiative promoted by the program “O teu Xacobeo” of the Xunta de Galicia