Members in Action: CREAF
Sunday, September 6, 2020
Posted by: Keith MacCallum
CREAF is a public research centre dedicated to terrestrial ecology and territorial analysis,
producing knowledge and methodologies for conservation, management and adaptation of
the environment to global change. Our objective is to work as a bridge between academia,
administrations and society, promoting awareness and exchanging knowledge within its scope
of activities at the local, regional and global levels.
At the end of October 2019 we received the Severo Ochoa Research Excellence Accreditation
with a proposed strategic research plan to provide knowledge to the most important
environmental challenges of the 21st century. After a rigorous international evaluation, the
distinction was awarded based on our scientific results and strategic programmes presented.
Our multidisciplinary research portfolio integrates fundamental research advances with
important contributions in environmental issues of great socioeconomic impact. We dedicate a
special attention to soil function and recovery, as it responsible for key ecosystem functions
such as the production of food and biomass, nutrient recycling and the sustainability and
biodiversity of terrestrial ecosystems.
The main lines of our work and experience in this soil function and recovery include the
- Soil quality. Analyse the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil.
- Soil ecology. Evaluate the taxonomic and functional diversity of belowground trophic
webs in natural and managed ecosystems, with special mention to their role in C
- Nutrient cycles. Quantify C storage, soil-atmosphere gas exchange, and nutrient
cycles, with particular emphasis on N and P. Our studies include natural soils as well as
soils affected by anthropic disturbances (e.g. global change or pollution).
- Restoration of degraded land. We work in land restoration at different scales (from
the plot to the landscape level) and from different approaches (ecological restoration,
Natural Based Solutions, recovery of the fertility and biodiversity of agricultural
soils…). We also do research on the creation of techno soils, combining mineral and
- Soil contaminants and remediation. Carry out evaluations on the necessity and/or
required intensity of restoration activities and their effectiveness with time.
- Ecotoxicology. Evaluate the ecotoxicology of contaminants and wastes using
standardized bioassays (ISO, OECD) based on microorganisms, plants and
- Organic wastes and amendments. Analyse the use of organic amendments to improve
soil fertility or decontamination, as well as post-treatments which improve their
- Soil genesis and optimal use. Assess the genesis and diversity of soils of a given area,
as well as optimal uses and limitations.
Some of our projects on the research field in the soil function and restoration area are as
- The Green Link - Restore desertified areas with an innovative tree growing method
across the Mediterranean border to increase resilience
- ImbalanceP - Effects of phosphorus limitations on Life, Earth system and Society.
- StoiCa - Resilience of stoichiometry in subartic soils under temperature-induced
Carbon losses: where does the Nitrogen go?
- Fert-Warm - Saturation of carbon sinks: from a CO2 and N fertilization-dominated
period to a warming-dominated period.
- PHUSICOS – about Natural Based Solutions to reduce risks in mountain landscapes.
Through excellence in science, we push the frontiers of knowledge of some of the biggest and
more complex challenges currently faced by society. Research done in our centre is now
classified into four research areas: global change, biodiversity, earth observation and
ecosystems functioning. And in six cross-cutting topics: forests, Mediterranean basin,
ecosystem services, sustainability, citizen science and big data and data quality.
Becoming a member of the Society for Ecological Restoration means for us having a voice in
one of the most prestigious international forums on ecological restoration and, in particular,
soil recovery. In addition, it allows us to share knowledge and access to revised scientific
research, news, events and opportunities, as well as web seminars and sessions led by experts
in the field of ecological restoration.
The CREAF researchers associated to SER as active members and their specialities are as
Pilar Andrés, specializes in soil ecology, biodiversity and sustainable land planning and
management. From basic and applied research, she faces the conservation and
restoration osf soil biodiversity and derived ecosystem functions.
Vicenç Carabassa, specialized in restoration ecology and rehabilitation of degraded
soils (mine, landfields, road slopes), works on the development of tools to monitor and
execute the restoration process, and on the design of new techniques to create
Xavier Domene, his field of study is the ecotoxicology of soils in both laboratory and
field work, the biology and protection of soil functions, and carbon sequestration.
Josep M. Espelta, analyses forests and, in particular, the factors and processes that
determine their natural dynamics in environmental gradients and in the face of
disturbances, such as fires, drought or herbivory.
Guille Peguero, researcher at the Global Ecology Unit specialising in biodiversity. His
research work has focused on next generation ecosystems, the impact of global
change on Mediterranean forests and the differential adaptation capacity of dryland
Josep Peñuelas, Highly cited from ISI Essential Science Indicators in ecology,
environment, plant and animal biology, agricultural sciences, geosciences and in all
scientific fields. He is one of the most respected and influential ecologists in the world
Angela Ribas, specialized in next generation ecosystems, ecology and ecophysiology
and in atmosphere-biosphere interaction in the context of terrestrial ecosystems.
Santi Sabaté, examines the structure and functioning of ecosystems, carbon, water
and nutrient balances, as well as the ecophysiological responses of forests to climate
change, drought, fire and management
CREAF is a consortium between different public entities, including the Autonomous University
of Barcelona (UAB), the University of Barcelona (UB), the Institute of Catalan Studies (IEC), the
Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the Government of Catalonia, and Interior and
the Institution of Research Centres of Catalonia (CERCA).
CREAF is a business member of the Society for Ecological Restoration.