Our current tree planting project is being implemented in the former huge pine forest of Leiria in Portugal. Until five years ago, this was a magnificent forest and a popular recreational area. Unfortunately, virtually the entire forest burned down in 2017. The reforestation project aims to restore as much of the landscape as possible.
The pine forest of Leiria was originally planted to stop the progression and decay of the dunes and to protect the city of Leiria from the windblown sand from these dunes. Between 1279 and 1325, the forest area was expanded to 11,500 ha.
Over 700 years of history
This pine forest was particularly important for the Portuguese in the time of the discoveries, because the wood of the pines was used for the construction of the Portuguese "caravel" (a deep-sea ship). The resin used to protect these wooden ships was also obtained from the pine forest of Leiria.
The whole forest was on fire
Until five years ago, this was a dense forest with old pines and other trees, a place for many nature-related activities such as hiking, biking and picnicking. Along the trails here were various viewpoints and natural water sources. Then disaster struck: In a forest fire in 2017, virtually the entire forest fell victim to the flames in just 24 hours, leaving only a little more than 1,500 hectares intact today.
Avoid the "tipping point
With our reforestation project, we aim to support the restoration of biodiversity, which in turn will support the local ecosystem as well as adaptation to climate change. Overall, the project aims to avoid the "tipping point" where desertification is very likely to occur in the area. Planned activities include the planting of native tree species such as maritime pines, cork oaks, and strawberry trees. Since this area borders the Atlantic Ocean, its preservation will also help mitigate coastal erosion due to sea level rise, a foreseeable problem in the near future.
Tree planting professionals at work
The planting will be carried out by a qualified team from our partner organization "One Tree Planted", with a focus on local employment and training. The reforestation project will also develop an awareness and education campaign and activities involving the local community.
Hand in hand with the locals
For example, planting events will be offered to volunteers and local schools during the planting season - not only to highlight the ecological importance of this area, but also to raise awareness of the severity of the consequences of forest fires and the long-term effects of climate change on this forest ecosystem. In this way, we also contribute to reducing the ecological footprint of the project.
(Images: One Tree Planted)