Regenerating Portugal’s Neglected Countryside
Portugal unfortunately, has always suffered due to forest fires. The last few years have been the worst. We all know what happened in Pedrógão and in other areas where people and animals lost their lives. The lands were left devastated and needing urgent care. The Portuguese government has implemented new rules and people have planted trees to try and help but what else can be done?
Montis is a non-governmental and non-profit organization that is trying to ensure the sustainability and rejuvenation of neglected lands in Portugal. Expats Portugal spoke to Margarida Silva, who works at Montis to find out more about this amazing organization.
Interested in helping? You can find more information below.
What is Montis?
Montis is a non-profit organization that started in 2014 based in Vouzela, Viseu. Their goal is to manage land for the conservation of its natural values. They started in the mountains surrounding the Vouga and Paiva basins (Freita, Arada, Montemuro, Lapa, Caramulo), but they have ambitious plans to spread their incredible work throughout the country.
Margarida explained that there is an impressive display of natural values in existence but unfortunately these values have not been studied enough. For example:
- There are the populations of wolves south of the Douro river, the most threatened in the country.
- There is a great set of mountain rivers and creeks where agricultural abandonment has allowed a remarkable recovery of vegetation with a mix of species typical of oak groves and riparian forests with remnants of the Tertiary Period.
- There is great diversity and density of amphibians, some endemic invertebrates, various important species of plants, a great diversity of birds in a high-quality landscape.
All of these amazing things need to be studied more and Margarida believes that management capability is crucial for the rational management of marginal territories suffering from severe abandonment.
Margarida explained that they want to ensure the development of natural processes and to manage forest fires intelligently as well as other natural hazards. They want to increase biodiversity and promote the conservation of indigenous species of both wildlife and fauna, including planting native species of plants replacing neglected Eucalyptus plantations known to increase fire hazards and damage soil.
To do this, they need to acquire/buy the abandoned land so they can begin their regeneration program and increase biodiversity and to ensure its sustainability. The land will continue to be managed by Montis or eventually sold to new owners.
How to Help
There are a few ways you can show your support for this organization:
- Join and become a member of Montis for a small donation of 20€ a year by visiting Montis Donation Page
- Get involved as Montis organizes walks and campaigns for people to go on and discover Portugal’s amazing lands.
- Montis also organize seminars and work camps where you can get hands-on and help plant trees and learn about indigenous plant species. If you are a member you will get a discount if you participate. Their calendar of activities is updated regularly or check out their Facebook Page
Montis – Associação de Conservação da Natureza