In a green, coastal corner of the Basque Country, a member and the current President of Regions4, the municipality of Bakio stands as a witness to changes in land use over the years. A landscape once dominated by short-cycle forestry crops is now being transformed into a refuge of biodiversity and resilience through an ambitious reforestation project. 

Soil, a resource once neglected, is recovering its importance on the global environmental agenda. Soil preservation is a challenge that requires an important work of development and integration of knowledge, disciplines, competences, regulations, criteria and management models. 

The Basque Country, committed to sustainability, has embraced this cause with the “Soil Protection Strategy Euskadi 2030”. This comprehensive protection initiative recognises the complexity of the issue and highlights how a healthy soil is a diverse and multifunctional ecosystem crucial to achieving climate neutrality, a circular and clean economy, to reverse biodiversity loss, provide healthy food, safeguard human health and tackle desertification and soil degradation.

A collaborative journey towards a more resilient soil  

The project developed in the Basque Country for the reforestation and recovery of 5.7 hectares of forests in the municipality of Bakio transcends the planting of trees: it is an integral response to the urgent need to reduce the vulnerability of the soil, recovering stable and resilient forest cover. 

The purpose is to safeguard and generate a functional soil that fulfills the essential ecological functions of forests, covering aspects such as biodiversity, nutrient retention, carbon capture, flow regulation, among others. 

The initiative has been led by the local community thanks to funding from the Government of the Basque Country through a grant campaign to promote sustainability at the local level. 

The strategy is not centred just around planting, but also about raising consciousness. A volunteer journey not only sees the earth being nourished with new trees and shrubs, but also with knowledge and passion for nature. Dissemination of the importance of forests and biodiversity is as crucial as the roots going into the ground. 

Social media, blogs and agricultural fairs have become the links that connect this story to the world. Field visits and planting days have brought the local community closer to their own efforts, reminding them that they are stewards of the land they call home. 

And the numbers show the success: more than 3,500 trees and shrubs planted by professionals and volunteers. But the real victory is in restoring the area, eliminating invasive non-native species and creating a self-sustaining ecosystem.  

The land of Bakio is no longer just a piece of soil it is a living testament to how regional action can regenerate the soil as a true and rich ecosystem. The Subnational Government of the Basque Country, with its forests in recovery, is consolidated as a world leader in soil protection.