Jaume Terradas reminds Joan Puigdefàbregas, desertification expert.
We have received the sad news of the death, on January 26th, of Joan Puigdefàbregas Tomás. Juan was born in 1940 in Barcelona, he was 77 years old. He studied Agriculture and obtained a PhD in Biological Sciences (Ecology) in Navarra. I met him when we both worked in our respective doctoral theses, he in dynamics of biomass and regeneration of Pyrenean forests at Jaca (Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología, CSIC, where he worked close to the best Spanish expert on grassland ecology, Pedro Monserrat, who left us last year), considering the interactions of the forest ecosystem with humans and grazing. I studied the water economy of plants in the Monegros. We talked about methods and issues of nutrient circulation that both of us were interested in. His later projects were about biogeochemistry and hydrology.
Later, he moved to the Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, CSIC, Almeria, where he created a team that did experimental work on desertification, hillside dynamics and the role of vegetation in southern Spain and Maghreb. He worked also in Tierra del Fuego and Inner Mongolia. His group developed models on geomorphological, hydrological, ecological and socio-economic processes to promote an integrated approach to the knowledge of arid landscapes, to which he devoted most of his work. Later, he became interested in the emotional causes of decision-making and collaborated with a neurology group in Granada. Between 1997 and 1999, he directed a project to assess the risk of desertification in Spain.
I meet him on several occasions, especially when he invited me to speak at a Franco-Spanish meeting he organized in Almeria about desertification. He always showed interest in other people’s opinions and allowed himself long moments of silence to think about it. He had an affable and simple character, perhaps shy and calm but scientifically demanding, and he earned the respect of the people with whom he collaborated. For his work in desertification he was awarded the Cross of Isabel the Catholic. He directed 14 doctoral theses and numerous research projects