In Portugal, nature conservation is somewhat constrained by the fact that only 3% of its territory falls under direct government administration, with the remaining area being divided between private (85%) and common land (12%). In all cases, there is a visible abandonment of the traditional small-scale agriculture resulting in ecologically depleted areas that are not profitable nor prepared to sustain their original biodiversity. This phenomenon amplifies the ongoing spread of invasive plants and limits the return of native life to these habitats, now free of intensive human intervention; Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, an UNESCO World Heritage site, is no exception.
Native plant conservation stands at the core of the project, encompassing the introduction of native specimens — trees, shrubs and herbs — on abandoned or partially active agricultural fields, as hedgerows, windbreaks and as understory vegetation inside silvicultural parcels. Planting activities are preceded by the gradual removal of existing invasive exotics (manual and mechanized) and will follow land use requirements to create a relative status quo between habitat restoration and future/current agricultural production.
A wildlife survey, designed to map animal biodiversity on the areas under intervention, will assert the impact of our work on local fauna. This study will guide not only the substitution of plant species, but also the construction of artificial structures such as temporary ponds, bird nests and other shelter typologies.
Searching for common ground between different interest groups — land owners, corporations, NGO’s, public administration and individual citizens — this platform tries to establish lasting results through active cooperation with local communities, using conservation ideas for the creation of new production systems that value native biodiversity and habitats.