Restoring Fire Impacted Land in the Monchique Natura 2000 Site in Southwestern Portugal

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Justin Roborg-Söndergaard , Miguel Jerónimo, António Galvão

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In August 2018, the largest wildfire in Europe occurred in southwestern Portugal. Impacting an area of  27000 hectares covering 3 municipal councils, Monchique, Silves, and Portimão, in the Algarve of mainly privately owned land-plots within the Monchique Natura 2000. To restore this land, Ryanair, in partnership with GEOTA (a national NGO), the Monchique municipal council, Algarve Directorate for Tourism, and Algarve ICNF agency, developed the ‘Renature Monchique’ project. The aim of which is to assist landowners recover fire-impacted groves of endemic commercial trees, such as cork oak groves, including the planting of other trees, e.g., the Monchique oak, a local critically endangered species. Starting in April 2019, the challenges and limitations for this project soon became clear. Until this time in Portugal, there had been no significant effort to initiate a ‘restoration project’ on a landscape scale with local landowners. Furthermore, a large part of the impacted area falls within a planted forest zone, and along with new fire regulations this limited tree planting options. In addition, the existing endemic tree groves are fragmented, isolated, and in many instances mere remnants of what existed previously. Also impacted by the fire of 2003, this area has suffered ecologically, socially, and economically, indicated by the high number of abandoned and degraded land-plots within this Natura 2000 site. Primarily limited by private landownership, landscape-scale restoration poses many challenges in Portugal today. Not least of which is ‘aftercare’, limited by the options linked to available funding resources for ecological restoration in Portugal currently.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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