For decades, people have been tapping pine trees to gather resin. However, residents in one Spanish province believe that this centuries-old technique has the potential to save rural settlements while also improving the environment.

In the provinces of Segovia, Vila, and Valladolid, a quite diverse ecology emerges. Between the Tierra de Pinares and Sierra de Gredos mountain ranges, a thick, 400,000-hectare protected forest of fragrant resin pines stretches up into the mountainous folds. At the right time of year, you could see workers extracting pine resin from tree trunks. Pine resin has been used by various societies for thousands of years. It was used to waterproof ships, treat burns, and light torches, among other things – in ancient times it was also used as a disinfectant. Technology and industry helped turn the thick, viable, milky sap into plastics, varnishes, glues, tires, rubber, turpentine, and even food additives in the mid-nineteenth century.

To get the rich sap, workers around the region began hacking into the bark of resin pine trees. Blanca Rodrguez-Chaves, vice dean of the Faculty of Law at the Autonomous University of Madrid and a specialist in environmental policies, believes that by attracting more young people to live and work in these rural communities, the region’s ecotourism will flourish, with more businesses offering guided forest hikes and local museums to host resin workshops.