Chestnut Soutos of Vilar, Servoi and Piornedo

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The soutos de castiñeiros of Vilar, Servoi and Piornedo are in the municipality of Castrelo do Val, forming part of the Natural Park of do Invernadoiro.
The soutos are chestnut tree plantations which have been exploited by man since times long past. They are located on the slopes forming small stains. In this area they are ecosystems of great interest as apart from housing highly interesting flora and fauna uncommon in other ecosystems, particularly fungi, lichens, birds and insects.
Their fruits, the chestnuts develop inside a spiky capsule, which on ripening opens to let the chestnuts out. It was a source of staple food in Galicia until the introduction of the potato, and as such its harvesting and drying process used to be a daily activity in the past. They were consumed dried, boiled or raw. Flour was also made from the dry chestnuts, and the spoilt ones used for animal fodder.
This area meets the ideal conditions for their growth, since it is a medium mountain area with acid soils and depths equal to or over 70 cm. The most appreciated varieties present in this territory are: Bermella, Calva, Cristova, Famosa, Longal, Soutiña, Touro and Vilamaesa.
The number and surface of the soutos dropped enormously in Galicia due to pruning for wood and Phytophthora spp. In Vilar, Servoi and Piornedo, we can find magnificent communities in full development and exploitation.

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