Fernando González Bernáldez’s scientific activity was developed in the field of ecology. Considered the main driver of terrestrial ecology in Spain, he created a school in which, today, numerous chairs participate from various universities. González Bernáldez made scientific contributions which are grouped under the unifying concept of landscape interpretation.
The Hidden Face of the Water Cycle.
A constant in González Bernáldez’s career was his interest in water, especially in its most hidden form, that of groundwater. First in Doñana and then, during the 1980s, in the Duero and Tagus basins, he and a team of collaborators developed new ideas about the relationships between the water cycle and ecosystems. He conducted research on groundwater, landscapes, wetlands, and vegetation. He verified in the field theoretical models that related different types of groundwater flows with different wetlands. This research allows us to better understand the appearance wet ecosystem landscapes, landforms, plant species, etc., and their relation to different types of local and regional groundwater discharges.
The Perception of the Landscape.
Assessing the landscape as a matter of scientific inquiry– therefore using quantitative and objective methods– without losing sight of its aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, was one of Bernáldez’s focuses. This approach satisfies our fundamental, evolutionary interest in nature and offers an interpretation as to what factors make a landscape more or less attractive to a given person than others do. He was aware of the importance of landscapes as an interface to understand nature, but also understood them in a way that inspires citizens to be more committed to the environment.
Spanish representative in the Tbilisi conference of 1977 which was famous for significantly improving approaches to environmental education, González Bernáldez was concerned about all aspects of educational methods in relation to environmental awareness. From the university level, where he taught several generations of ecologists, to basic levels of education, for which he proposed valuable reflections on the way in which children and adults react to nature, González Bernáldez’s work continues to be a source of inspiration for educational action.
Making scientific knowledge a tool for society was a hallmark of González Bernáldez’s research– his research had morality. The environmental value of the meadow and of other traditional systems of uses, the need to incorporate environmental variables into the planning of the land, the application of new criteria to the protection of species and spaces were some of its teachings. When, in 1992, shortly before his death, the National Environmental Prize was awarded to all the environmental organizations in Spain, they decided that González Bernáldez was their common representative.
The complete list of publications by Fernando González Bernáldez can be found at the following link: List of publications by Fernando González Bernáldez