Provincial Council of León
The Provincial Council of León, was constituted as a provincial authority by the state in 1813. The Province of León has a ground surface of 1,558,085 ha, according to an investigation held by Castilla y León in the period 2002 – 2004, of which 859,525 ha is registered as forestry area, 526,570 ha are planted with trees and 332,955 ha is deforested. The most affected areas are in the south-east of the province and in the mountain zones. Here reforestation is an urgent matter as it is at risk of desertification. More trees would create much better natural water retaining in the area, allow other plants to grow and generally improve the biodiversity of the region. The Province has a population of 500,200 inhabitants (INE 2008), 211 municipalities with a total of 1,409 townships. The 3 most important cities are León, Ponferrada y San Andrés del Rabanedo where 46.7% of the population lives. Also 90.2% of the townships has less than 500 inhabitants.
The competences of the Provincial Council of León are regulated by government law. Their main emphasis to execute its functions is to technically and economically support the townships. To make this possible, the Diputación provides economic and technical resources at its municipalities’ disposal in infrastructure such as roads, water supply, sewage treatment, social and cultural services, etc.
On the subject of forestation the Provincial Council of León has engaged in numerous projects of reforestation, in collaboration with the townships of the province and owners of susceptible land for reforestation. A recent example is the improvement by the Provincial Council of Léon of the areas of Benavides de Órbigo (200 ha) and Villamejil (190 ha), in the 90’s. Currently they are involved in the Villablino (75 ha) area. Moreover the Province itself owns a significant area of land susceptible to reforestation in the Port of San Isidro (2,700 ha), in which it maintains a small but ongoing reforestation program. The main issue here is to reforest zones that are difficult to reach and have very little to zero water retaining capacity because of its inclination and rocky structure.