People have been tapping pine trees for decades to collect resin. However, residents in one Spanish province feel that this centuries-old practice can save rural communities while simultaneously benefiting the environment.

A quite diverse ecology emerges in the provinces of Segovia, Vila, and Valladolid. A thick, 400,000-hectare protected forest of fragrant resin pines reaches up into the hilly folds between the Tierra de Pinares and Sierra de Gredos mountain ranges. Various societies have employed pine resin for thousands of years. Pine resin was used to seal ships, cure burns, and ignite torches. It was also utilized as a disinfectant in ancient times. Technology helped transform the milky sap into plastics, varnishes, glues, tires, rubber, turpentine, and even food additives.

Blanca Rodrguez-Chaves, vice dean of the Faculty of Law at the Autonomous University of Madrid and an expert on environmental policies, believes that attracting more young people to live and work in these rural communities will boost the region’s ecotourism, with more businesses offering guided forest hikes and local museums hosting resin workshops.