Algarve forests to be revitalised

A major reforestation programme for the Algarve, covering 65 hectares of land, has been announced by water authority Águas do Algarve as part of the Odelouca Environmental Project’s compensatory measures.

To compensate for the loss of forest habitats during construction of the Odelouca dam, concluded in 2010, the authority is now to reforest three large areas with a total of 26,000 cork oaks and 2,000 holm oaks.

The areas are: 26 hectares at Herdade da Santinhas, S. Bartolomeu de Messines (Silves),  32 hectares at Herdade das Taipinhas, Alferce (Monchique) and  seven hectares at Mata Nacional da Herdade da Parra, Silves.

The programme, set to cost a total of €200,000, will include cork oak and holm oak plantations in a bid to restore vital flora and fauna habitats, such as those of the Bonelli Eagle, which were destroyed to give way to the dam in Odelouca.

At Herdade das Santinhas and Herdade das Taipinhas, Águas do Algarve aims to regenerate areas that were partly lost to forest fires by increasing the diversity of flora and minimising the risk of fires.

The Mata Nacional da Herdade da Parra was seriously affected by two large forest fires in the last two decades, which led to a substantial number of habitats being destroyed.

Reforestation of this area requires a wider range of actions, which are to be implemented following an agreement between Águas do Algarve and the National Forest Authority (AFN) and the launching of the Forest and Biodiversity Management Project for the Herdade da Parra.

Preparation of the land at the three locations includes the removal of spontaneous vegetation at surface level, keeping the roots in place to minimise soil erosion, and the preservation of arbutus trees taller than a metre as well as all cork oaks and holm oaks.

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