Tree rescue team

Although olive trees are not a rare sight in the Algarve and the Alentejo, their numbers are gradually declining as farmers across the region dig up their olive orchards to make space for other more profitable harvests. Vitthal Füchte, a qualified landscape architect originally from Germany, but now based in the Algarve, has made salvaging these magnificent trees his new project.

“I’ve always had a passion for nature, especially the preservation of it,” Vitthal explains, “and ecology and the environment have been a part of my life since I was a child.” Vitthal is well travelled and his passion for nature and wildlife conservation has taken him across the world. “I worked for four-and-a-half years for an American charitable foundation in India,” he explains. “We basically worked to rejuvenate the land in any way we could.”

Following his stint to India, Vitthal worked for a local council in Germany. “I was involved in landscape architecture, but my green fingers did not like the computer,” he admits. In the years following the fall of the Berlin wall, when the German economy became unstable, Vitthal decided it was time for another change. So, on New Year’s Day 1996, he packed his bags and moved to Portugal, “I’ve been here ever since,” he smiles.

The committed landscape architect is currently involved in clearing an area in the Alentejo, rich in olive trees of all ages, shapes and sizes. The project is partly EU subsidised, and involves removing 7,200 trees from 90 hectares of land. “If I don’t remove them, they will go to waste,” explains Vitthal. “And there is now a huge demand for these trees, which I am in a position to meet.”

Sadly, not all the trees are salvageable. Shaking his head, Vitthal reveals that any trees with a trunk diameter greater than 40cm are no longer harvestable, which is why so many trees are wasted. This bothers him greatly; “I see it as complete devastation of the land and the ecological environment to waste these beautiful old olive trees, which characterise the Algarve and the Alentejo so perfectly.”

Vitthal plans to retail the 2,000 trees rescued from the Alentejo site and use them in large-scale landscaping projects. His team will carry out all aspects of the project, from removal to replanting. He can be contacted on 289 794 441 or 914 109 370.