Firewood and Charcoal Consumption in Madrid during Eighteenth Century and Its Effects on Forest Landscapes

  • Javier Hernando OrtegoEmail author
  • Gonzalo Madrazo García de Lomana
Part of the Environmental History book series (ENVHIS, volume 6)


The fuelling system of Early Modern Madrid was dominated by the charcoal, since neither coal nor peat were available for urban consumption. According to our estimations, the total fuel-wood consumed in the city increased from c. 170.000 t to 200.000 t between 1750 to 1800, so it was necessary a forest surface of about 117.000 - 138.000 ha in order to produce such amount of firewood.

To understand the effects of Madrid’s fuel consumption on surrounding forests, we make a distintion between the different charcoal supply areas, taking into account on the one hand the different natural characteristics, and on the other hand the features related with social and economic structures in rural areas.

To conclude, we highlight how this way of exploitation is visible in today`s forest landscapes, taking into account that charcoaling has been a continuous activity until mid-twenty century. Nonetheless, the production of the fuel consumed in Madrid was, in general terms, a sustainable activity. The strongest evidence for this affirmation is that for centuries charcoal came from the same areas and, as Madrid’s population increased, charcoal began to be produced in areas further away in an extensive process.


Eighteenth Century Forest Landscape Fuel Supply Forest Formation Woodland Area 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Allen, R (2003) Was there a timber crisis in early modern Europe? In: Cavaciocchi S (ed) Economia e Energia, secc. XIII–XVIII. Atti de la Trentaquattresima Semttimana di Studi. Le Monnier, Firenze, pp 469–482Google Scholar
  2. Bernardos J (2004) Combustible para Madrid en la Edad Moderna: el difícil equilibrio entre las necesidades urbanas y los recursos del territorio. Mélanges de L’École Française de Rome 116(2):683–704Google Scholar
  3. Bernardos J, Hernando J, Madrazo G, Nieto J (2011) Energy consumption in Madrid, 1561 to c. 1860. In: Massard-Guilbaud G, Mosley S (eds) Common ground: integrating the social and environmental in history. Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle upon Tyne, pp 316–339Google Scholar
  4. Billen G, Garnier J, Barles S (2012) History of the urban environmental imprint: introduction to a multidisciplinary approach to the long-term relationships between Western cities and their hinterland. Reg Environ Chang 12:249–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boissère J (1990) La consommation parisiense de bois et les sidérurgies périphériques: essai de mise en paralléle (milieu XVe-milieu XIXe siècles). In: Woronoff D (ed) Forges et fôrets. Recherches sur la consommation protoindustrielle de bois. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciencies Sociales, Paris, pp 29–56Google Scholar
  6. Bravo J (1993) Montes para Madrid. El abastecimiento de carbón vegetal a la Villa y Corte entre los siglos XVII y XVIII. Caja Madrid, MadridGoogle Scholar
  7. Energy Statistics (1987) Definitions, units of measure and conversion factors. United Nations, New York. Accessed 06 June 2014Google Scholar
  8. González de la Peña P (1874) Consumo de combustible vegetal y madera en Madrid. Rev For Econ Agrícola VII:79–86Google Scholar
  9. González de Molina M, Toledo VM (2014) The social metabolism. A socio-ecological theory of historical change. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Hernando J (2003) Poder y usos del espacio: la construcción del monte de El Pardo durante el Antiguo Régimen. In: Alcutén S, Goñi I (eds) La construcción histórica del paisaje agrario en España y Cuba. Catarata, Madrid, pp 131–146Google Scholar
  11. Hernando J (2010) La política forestal en el Madrid de los Austrias. Abastecimiento de energía y regulación del monte, siglos XVI–XVII. Anales del Instituto de Estudios Madrileños L:596–632Google Scholar
  12. Hernando J (2013) La gestión forestal del abastecimiento de combustible a Madrid en la Edad Moderna. Cuad Soc Esp Cien Forestales 38:57–63Google Scholar
  13. Hoffmann RC (2006) Footprint metaphor and metabolic realities. Environmental impacts of Medieval European cities. In: Squatriti P (ed) Natures past. The environment and human history. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, pp 288–325Google Scholar
  14. Kander A, Malanima P, Warde P (2013) Power to the people. Energy in Europe over the last five centuries. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  15. Kim E, Barles S (2012) The energy consumption of Paris and its supply areas from the eighteenth century to the present. Reg Environ Chang 12:295–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. López N, Allende F, Gómez G, Madrazo G, Sáez E (2013) The evolution of forest landscapes in the Central Mountain Range (Spain). Different forest lands for different traditional uses. In: Rotherham ID (ed) Cultural severance and the environment. The ending of traditional and customary practice on commons and landscapes managed in common. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 161–175Google Scholar
  17. Madrazo G (2010) La evolución del paisaje forestal en la vertiente segoviana de la Sierra de Guadarrama. Junta de Castilla y León, ValladolidGoogle Scholar
  18. Malanima P (1996) Energia e crecita nell’Europa preindustrial. La Nuova Italia Scientifica, RomaGoogle Scholar
  19. Malanima P (2006) Energy crisis and growth 1650–1850: the European deviation in a comparative perspective. J Glob Hist 1:101–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mata R, Concepción Sanz, dir (2004) Atlas de los paisajes de España. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, MadridGoogle Scholar
  21. Nieto J (2010) Los “fabriqueros”: una pieza clave de la organización madrileña de carbón en la primera mitad del siglo XVIII. Revista de Historia Industrial 44:17–38Google Scholar
  22. Sáez E (2000) Montes públicos, territorio y evolución del paisaje en la Sierra Norte de Madrid. UAM Ediciones-Consejería de Medio Ambiente, MadridGoogle Scholar
  23. Serrada R, San Miguel-Ayanz A (2008) Selvicultura en dehesas. In: Serrada R, Montero G, Reque JA (eds) Compendio de Selvicultura Aplicada en España. INIA, Madrid, pp 861–887Google Scholar
  24. Warde P (2005) Woodland fuel, demand and supply. In: Langton J, Jones G (eds) Forest and chases of England and Wales. St John’s College Research Center, Oxford, pp 80–86Google Scholar
  25. Warde P (2006) Fear of wood shortage and the reality of the woodland in Europe, c. 1450–1850. Hist Work J 62:29–58Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Javier Hernando Ortego
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gonzalo Madrazo García de Lomana
    • 2
  1. 1.Universidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Universidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations