Integrated and intelligent management of complex forests and mixed-species plantations in South west Europe


The objective of the project is to promote complex forests (mixed and irregular) and multi-species plantations as a resilient adaptive strategy in response to climate change and declining biodiversity. The project was launched to strengthen the synergistic and networked functioning of research and innovation at a transnational level in specific sectors of Sudoe based on smart and sustainable growth, by promoting research, development and transfer of technology and innovation

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be the main threat to our societies, especially urban ones, and has focused on the need for functional, healthy and sustainably managed ecosystems to minimize the risks of new epidemics and its serious economic and social consequences. In this sense, the way in which those responsible for stimulating the economy and responding to challenges such as the health crisis, the loss of biodiversity, climate change or the depopulation of the rural world will determine whether we amplify or mitigate the effects that are behind these threats and challenges.


In this scenario, complex forests are a key ally that must be taken into account if we want to advance towards the necessary green recovery, given the possibilities they offer in terms of generating social value, entrepreneurship opportunities, greater resilience to global change and promotion of bioeconomy through diversification of the forest systems.


Complex forests – which include trees of different sizes, height, and age (mixed) and single species forests, but structurally-diverse (irregular) – offer a greater potential for generating environmental services than monoculture plantations (same species) or regular forests (even-aged and similar size). Traditionally, there is greater interest within the industry in promoting monoculture forests due to their productive and economic value, and they receive greater attention from the research community than complex forests. However, numerous investigations, initiatives and experiences developed in Europe show that complex forests increase, and in many cases, improve the benefits obtained from simplified forest systems.


This certainty does not exist in the case of the Sudoe environment. For this reason, the partners of COMFOR-SUDOE project (COMplex FORest) will work for the next two years in the application of cutting-edge technologies and methods in demonstration areas (Valle del Tiétar in Extremadura and model forest in Palencia, Castilla y León) to generate evidence and knowledge that serve to inform political leaders and land managers about intelligent management measures that favor the diversification of forest structures, guaranteeing the transfer of knowledge and the balance of the transnational R & D & I effort.


The focus of organizations participating in COMFOR – funded by the Interreg Sudoe Program –, is to facilitate training, education and knowledge transfer to develop an intelligent specialisation strategy and network in the conservation for the sustainable use and management of complex forests in the South West of Europe (smartCOMPLEX).



Quantify and socially and economically value the ecosystem services (biomass for energy, quality wood, carbon sequestration, habitat improvement and reduction of abiotic and biotic risks) of mixed plantations and irregular forests in the Sudoe.

Joint experimental network

Creation of the joint experimental network of mixed and irregular forests and plantations in the Sudoe. Capacity building and knowledge transfer.

Specialisation strategy

Development of an intelligent specialisation strategy for the management of mixed plantations and irregular forests in Sudoe.


Encourage intelligent specialisation in the field of environmental services (risk management and biodiversity protection) and energy from renewable sources (biomass) of Sudoe, through knowledge networking, innovation and scientific exchange. Promote the technological value of complex forests (mixed and irregular) and mixed plantations as local assets of Sudoe.

synergistic and networked functioning

Strengthening the synergistic and networked functioning of R&I at transnational level in the specific sectors of Sudoe based on intelligent specialisation.

Group Tasks


Analysis, characterisation and classification of Sudoe complex forests


Economic and social valuation of the environmental services of complex forests and mixed plantations


Experimental network for intelligent specialisation of complex forests and mixed plantations


Intelligent specialisation strategy on conservation and sustainable management of complex forests in the Sudoe

Join the Work Group on Natural Capital and Forestry

complete title

Integrated and intelligent management of complex forests and mixed-species plantations in South West Europe

Project Code



01/11/20— 28/02/23

NRDF Budget

1 289 211.57 €

Associated beneficiaries

Images: Header (Robert Balog)  and background (Artem da Pictures) at  Pixabay 

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