The field trip will visit Artikutza, a watershed bought by the municipality of San Sebastian in 1919 to ensure high-quality water supply, and which has been managed as a strict reserve for almost one century. Today, Artikutza is covered with extensive beech and oak forests, including many ancient pollards with outstanding biodiversity (Photo 1). The streams in the valley are the best preserved in the region (Photo 2), and are notable for the abundance of large wood (Photo 3) and the presence of endangered species such as the Pyrenean desman (Photo 4). Our team is involved in several research projects in Artikutza, and participates in restoration actions such as the demolition of small weirs to improve longitudinal connectivity to fish (Photo 5). Recently, it has been decided to decommission the Enobieta Dam, a 40-m high reservoir that stores over 1.5 Hm3 of water (Photo 6), and the largest dam so far decommissioned in Spain. The reasons, procedures and consequences of this decommissioning for biodiversity and organic matter will be among the topics discussed in this field trip.
Depending on the number and willingness of participants, the field trip can be split in several, more or less physically challenging alternatives. With over 3000 mm per year, Artikutza is the rainiest spot in the Iberian Peninsula, so do not forget your raincoat or umbrella, as well as a pair of sturdy shoes!