Vale das Lobas is a rural regeneration project located in Portugal’s Beira Alta region. It is comprised of over 120 hectares reserved as a Biodiversity Zone, to include reforestation, water harvesting, regenerative agriculture and forest garden arboriculture. The sacred heart of Vale das Lobas is O Seminario, an ancient hill farm with terraces and forests, that will open as a Centre for Natural Medicine, to include botanical gardens and an apothecary.
Climate instability is now a reality, and every bioregion is faced with its own unique challenges. In the Arctic North, the melting tundra is releasing vast plumes of methane; in temperate climates, flooding is becoming more regular, and in the south of Europe, the summers are hotter and drier, leading to an expansion of the desert landscape.
Desertification is a result of a complex range of conditions. Rainfall is governed by wind patterns that carry ocean precipitation. Deciduous forests transpire an enormous quantity of water vapour into the atmosphere, and deserts arise when the tree cover has diminished below a critical point. In Iberia, and many other regions at this latitude, this "tipping point" has already been reached. The strategy of replacing native hardwood forests with monoculture plantations of Pine and Eucalyptus is taking its toll. Added to this, the steady migration of populations away from the countryside, and into the cities, has resulted in farm land being untended, water sources becoming disused, and the incidence of fires increasing and becoming more widespread. After fires, the exposed lands are prone to soil erosion, accelerated species extinction and further collapse of eco-systems.
Think globally, act locally
These challenges require us to think holistically, and work collectively to turn this around. Solutions can be developed locally by the people who know and use the lands, and then applied throughout the bioregion.
Protocol of Co-operation
Korashan Association is in partnership with Fornos de Algodres Municipality, in a protocol of co-operation, with the focus on economic and ecological regeneration. Sensitive land management occurs when our livelihoods and well-being are invested in the correct upkeep of the land.
Biodiversity and Nature Conservation zones
Ecological regeneration hinges on improving biodiversity, and we are establishing the area comprising Vale das Lobas as a Biodiversity Zone. This newly coined concept gives priority to land management activities that serve to enhance ecological well-being. Reforestation is a key component to land regeneration in general, and the Vale das Lobas Biodiversity Zone will have a strong focus on agro-forestry and forest gardening. We will harvest rainwater in large lake areas, to maintain the water levels and provide security against summer fires. The focus is on improving soil quality.
The monitoring of flora and fauna within the biodiversity zone will involve the whole community, particularly young people. School children and college students will monitor and record plants, insects, and animals species.
The creation of the Biodiversity Zone does not only make ecological good sense, but it will also produce economic rewards for the region and its inhabitants. Once facilities for visitors have been established, Vale das Lobas will become a site of special interest to a wide range of visitors, and will help to establish a niche position for Fornos de Algodres in the fast changing tourism market.