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A group of families originating from Belgium has owned these woodlands since 1840.

This legendary pine grove belonged to the Community and the Land of Segovia since the Reconquest. In 1675, the King granted it to the Church, and it became the property of the Carthusian monks of El Paular, who managed it until Church lands were sold in 1837. The Pine Grove went to a speculator who promptly sold it off to a group of foreign investors that were visiting Spain. They were initially a group of friends who eventually organised themselves under the name of Sociedad Anónima Belga de los Pinares de El Paular.

The fact that it was a family concern and that many of the shareholders settled definitively in Spain, driven by a commitment to a long-term product (the maturation cycle of the Scots Pine for felling is 120 years), promoted innovation in forestry processes and a careful and continuous management of the property.

“Los Belgas”, providential in the conservation of los Pinares del Paular

The purchase of the Cabeza de Hierro woodland by the Belgians was providential to its conservation. The pine groves of Malagosto and el Reventón were also sold off. However, they did not fare so well, being acquired by some important Spanish owners from Madrid, Segovia and Torrelaguna, and were felled to make a quick profit.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the management of the Sociedad Belga, then in the hands of Mr Henri Dubois, refused to sell major amounts of wood for the rebuilding of French towns and villages devastated during the First World War, despite receiving substantial offers. Acceptance would undoubtedly have led to the utter deforestation of the woodlands. This vision, well ahead of its time, is now regarded as a forerunner of the current sustainable forestry resource management model.

“Los Belgas”, providential in the conservation of los Pinares del Paular

The purchase of the Cabeza de Hierro woodland by the Belgians was providential to its conservation. The pine groves of Malagosto and el Reventón were also sold off. However, they did not fare so well, being acquired by some important Spanish owners from Madrid, Segovia and Torrelaguna, and were felled to make a quick profit.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the management of the Sociedad Belga, then in the hands of Mr Henri Dubois, refused to sell major amounts of wood for the rebuilding of French towns and villages devastated during the First World War, despite receiving substantial offers. Acceptance would undoubtedly have led to the utter deforestation of the woodlands. This vision, well ahead of its time, is now regarded as a forerunner of the current sustainable forestry resource management model.

Pioneers in the conservation of the black vulture colony in the Sierra de Guadarrama

In the Nineteen forties and Nineteen fifties, Franco’s regime created the Provincial Boards for the Extinction of Harmful Animals. Birds of prey, which were regarded as harmful, were hunted by vermin destroyers who were paid to exterminate them.

At the beginning of the 1940s, Mr Juan Pedro Lecocq took over the management of the company following the death of his predecessor, Mr Esteban Blanco. During his management, which lasted until 1967, he decided to take measures to guarantee the conservation of the black vulture colony which are now coming to fruition. He opposed the destruction of the nests in the pine grove and collaborated actively with some foreign ornithologists who conducted scientific studies on this species. It would not be preposterous to venture that if the black vulture still continues to circle above the Sierra de Guadarrama it is largely thanks to a man who was ahead of his time and who realised that these birds were part of its ecological equilibrium.

The vast social and cultural legacy of the Sociedad Anónima Belga de los Pinares de El Paular

The extraction of timber from el Pinar de los Belgas has a history peppered with major landmarks magnificently narrated by the naturalist and writer Julio Vías.

The Rascafría sawmill is the living witness to an extraordinary industrial activity that has had a decisive social and economic influence, not only on the region but also on the entire city of Madrid. As of 1860, the demand for timber for the building of its new neighbourhoods prompted the Sociedad Belga to erect a sawmill and warehouses in the capital city. Shortly afterwards, a social network of professions related to timber and construction sprang up around it and has lived on to this day. In 1925, the expansion of the facilities of the “Belgian sawmill” in calle Atocha was one of the leading examples of industrial concrete building. After it ceased to operate in the 1990s, this unique building was purchased by the City Council of Madrid. To this day, the building has upheld this entrepreneurial spirit by becoming the headquarters of Medialab Prado, the well-known facility for the development of cultural projects.

The vast social and cultural legacy of the Sociedad Anónima Belga de los Pinares de El Paular

The extraction of timber from el Pinar de los Belgas has a history peppered with major landmarks magnificently narrated by the naturalist and writer Julio Vías.

The Rascafría sawmill is the living witness to an extraordinary industrial activity that has had a decisive social and economic influence, not only on the region but also on the entire city of Madrid. As of 1860, the demand for timber for the building of its new neighbourhoods prompted the Sociedad Belga to erect a sawmill and warehouses in the capital city. Shortly afterwards, a social network of professions related to timber and construction sprang up around it and has lived on to this day. In 1925, the expansion of the facilities of the “Belgian sawmill” in calle Atocha was one of the leading examples of industrial concrete building. After it ceased to operate in the 1990s, this unique building was purchased by the City Council of Madrid. To this day, the building has upheld this entrepreneurial spirit by becoming the headquarters of Medialab Prado, the well-known facility for the development of cultural projects.

El Pinar de los Belgas today

Nowadays, el Pinar de los Belgas is a foremost example of forestry management. It is also an open space of great scenic beauty. Its location within the limits of the extensively-advertised National Park of the Sierra de Guadarrama has made it an unexpected host to a large number of tourists. Most of them enjoy the setting respectfully, although unfortunately they fail to realise that all the things they admire supported by private management and by the necessary sale of high-quality timber products, which you are invited to discover here.

The company is now facing the decisive challenge of guaranteeing the subsistence of el Pinar de los Belgas. Its exceptional location generates specific regulations that render traditional forestry operations more complicated. The sustainability pursued by the public powers is now in jeopardy because regulatory, environmental and tourism pressure are compromising the principles of private management. The company has publicly announced its willingness to talk about the property’s future with the State or Autonomous Administrations. Otherwise, the offer will be open to companies and private parties interested in purchasing a property of extremely high ecological value in an exceptional location.

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