Community Reforesting Portugal

Since our last bout of fires this summer there has been a community response to the situation …

Floresta Portuguesa Sustentável – Sustainable Forests for Portugal
(Permaculturing Portugal Article)

Floresta Portuguesa Sustentável – Sustainable Forests for Portugal
(Facebook Group)

A document has been put together with regards to Fire Resistant Species that could be considered for Portugal:

List of Native and Fire Resistant Trees for Sustainable Forestry in Portugal
It’s very positive and inspiring for me to see all this activity happen and there are many expressions/implementations of the intention being shared. Here’s a nice one for example …

What is stopping us from just planting trees? Make a walk in the forest in the coming days. Everything is seeding at the moment. Take some seeds (not all) and start germinating them in your windowsill, veranda, greenhouse or garden. Perhaps in the North the seeds need to be stratified. When they catch on, you plant them when the rains start to fall. On an early Sunday morning carrying a shovel and a bag of trees, no-one will bother you with any questions. Every streetcorner, every open place, everywhere where you think a tree would be needed. Search on the Internet for Todmorden Edible Gardens (or the TED talk about it at or Guerilla Gardening and you’ll see what I mean. No need for subsidies, just a bit of courage and civil disobedience. Collect some friends who do the same with you (borrow their garden, tools, time) and within a year you have done something substantial.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago …
The next best time is to plant a tree today.

From which has sprang another group …

Plant Trees in Central Portugal

The video mentioned in the commentary above is what everyone needs to see and hear with all their heart. It’s full circle (a revolution)!  As Geoff Lawton says, ‘All the worlds problems can be solved in a garden’.

I imagine that when the energy in a community is directed in this way, the system that one used to live in would quite suddenly be seen as something more illusory and temporal.

On a personal level I’m getting involved in a friendly collaboration via the Facebook group. A group of us will collect acorns, chestnuts and other indigenous seeds. Then we will gather together on a set date and go over to a friend’s place who had fire sweep through the place and has turned it to mostly ash. It was mostly pine surrounding them, which is indicative of the landscape within which fires occur. The intention is to reseed their quinta with the more friendly trees, the original natives that will bring with them more moisture and soil building capabilities.

A really good article on the history of the forests in Portugal:

A Floresta e os Florestais na História de Portugal (Hit Google Translate for English, translation is OK).

Also has a good key map on the predominant Oak species in various areas of Portugal:

1. Quercus robur (English Oak or Pedunculate Oak)

2. Quercus pyrenaica (Pyrenean Oak)

3. Quercus canariensis (Algerian Oak)

4. Quercus faginea (Portuguese Oak, Lusitanica)

5. Quercus suber (Cork Oak)

6. Quercus rotundifolia (Encina in Spanish or Azinhera in Portuguese)

On my land I have lots of Quercus Robur and Quercus pyrenaica, and I’ve identified one Quercus canariensis in the bottom orchard but it looks very similar to the Quercus faginea so not sure which one it is. Quercus suber is also known as the Cork Oak. I wonder if this originated from Cork in Ireland?

Goats and Chickens …

Now that I have little money to do anything with, other than feed myself, I’ve been focusing on taking care of those animals that are taking care of me. I’ve been enjoying goats milk and eggs for a while now but have been wanting to get the chickens in with the goats to test and see how well they would work together within an enclosed environment.

With virtually no money aside from some wire to bind the pieces of wood together I’ve put together a chicken pen inside the goat house using branches of burnt wood from the last fire and other recycled material. My soil building companions are now working together …

The goats; Jeronimo and Luci
The integrated chicken house

The chicken pen has a perching area on the right hand side, the roof covered over with blackberry cuttings and then broom brush with some plastic lining in between so that no rain get’s through. There is also a laying area on the far side with another one in the process of being built. At present there are 6 chickens in total. The spaces in the chicken perimetre are wide enough so that the chickens can get through and scratch through anything in the goat area, however the (two) goats are limited to their area only.

Every morning now I’m encouraged to go out and clear areas of black berry and any other vegetation that is overgrown. Anything that is suitable for goat fodder get’s put aside and given to the goats and anything else is mulched. I’m still feeding the chickens with feed that I have to buy in but am also getting some food from food scraps, grasses, worms from the worm farm and larvae from composting.

It’s still a work in progress but this is how it is for now. Working on improvements.

Update 1st Nov 2012

Sweet mama Luci’s babies, Billy and Joey are enjoying the social ambience in the animal house. They like to hang out in there with the chickens and get away from mama some times.