In 2017, in just 24 hours, almost the entire forest of Leiria in Portugal was burned, with little more than 1,500 hectares remaining intact today out of the 11,500 original hectares. While these pine trees burnt, 700 years of history was going up in flames, as did the future of this forest. Before the wildfire of 2017, this was a glorious forest of old growth pines and other trees, a place for many nature-based activities such as walking, cycling, and picnicking, where along the routes through this forest, various viewpoints, picnic spots and natural water sources could be found.

This project aims to restore as much of the landscape as possible. In so doing, this project supports the recovery of biodiversity that in turn supports the return of local ecosystem services as well as ecosystem resilience and adaptation to climate change. Collectively, this restoration action aims to avoid the ‘tipping point’ where desertification of this area is highly likely. These intentional actions involve the planting of endemic species, such as maritime pine, as well as cork oaks and strawberry trees.

The planting will be carried out by a skilled team with a focus on local employment and training. As part of the social regeneration of this area, materials, machinery and vehicle rentals, the propagation of plants, and labour will be hired or acquired locally, the aim of which is support the local economy whenever possible. Within this strategy, our partners will also develop an awareness and education campaign along with activities aimed at involving the local community that relate to landscape-based conservation, the fostering of forest protection and conservation, and the mitigation of wildfires.

Location: Mata Nacional de Leiria (A Portuguese Public Protected Area)

Tree species: Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), Stone pine (Pinus pinea), Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), Cork oak (Quercus suber), Ash (Fraxinus angustifolia), Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera)