Reforestation Project in Portugal

Vision: To live on a sustainably cultivated land surrounded by a functioning forest ecosystem serving as a natural fire break. Promote the idea and support and inspire others to reduce the fire risk in the region.

Mission: To create a safe environment at Keela Yoga Farm and the surrounding region of Castelo Branco, Fundao and Penamacor.

Volunteer with us in November 2018 to take part in our reforestation project

Every time food is grown for us energy is required to grow it in the form of petrol for equipment, chemicals for fertilisers and oil for transport. Every time we buy appliances or clothes, when we  wipe our behinds, use a printer, turn on a kettle or open a fridge door we are doing something ad for the environment.  The best way we can offset this is to buy trees. So please offset your carbon and the damage you are creating by being here by contribution to our reforestation program either by volunteering a financial contribution or by any other means.

As much as reforesting an area is changing the environment and can be seen by environmentalists as bad for the current life there, we believe that we should be reforesting agriculture land to offset carbon and create habit for life that once lived in the forest. Each year we will continue to plant a mix of native long lived trees, faster growing pioneer trees and trees that will be thined out as the forest matures to privude sustainble timber and fire wood for us and the local community. the forest should also supply food and shelter to both animals and foraging for humans.

Winter 2018/2019 Reforestation Plan

the below detail shows some of the trees, our plan and the costs for this years project.

  • When? We are doing this years planting for our 2018 reforestation effort in November 2018
  • The area we have designated a new area for our next push on reforestation. This is 1 hectare (10000 square meters or 2.4 acres) of our land. The focus of the winter 2018 and 2019 planting will be  windbreak, shade for the lake and nitrogen fixers.
  • Fencing. The area we are going to reforest would of been a natural forest before either the moors or Romans turning into agriculture land. As the area as been abandoned for 6 years some trees are growing back. To keep the grass short to reduce fire risks we rotate sheep across the land and so before we plant trees we must invest in fencing to keep the sheep away from the trees until they are established. In April 2018 we bought chestnut fence posts from a sustainable local source 5km away from us and put them into the ground around at 4 meter intervals. Two sides of the area has existing fencing and so the total investment was €100. The fence posts are put into the ground when the soil is wet so they are easy to push in. Each fence post is 1.8 meters long and has been put into the ground 50cm. In August we will be buying 200 meters of wire fence at 1.2m high at a cost of €160, a neighbour has a wrench system to pull the fence tight while the ground is hard and the fence posts don’t move. (most people put in fence posts and fence at the same time and end up with crukid fence posts).
  • Water.
    • The Lake Inside the 1 hectare fenced area we have dug a lake at a cost of €3000 to supply the reforestation efforts with water. This was a much higher cost than expected due to the ground being pure granite stone, however this has worked in our advantage as it holds water very well and has been full all summer where our other lakes have emptied. This cost has been paid for with savings made by the owners of Keela Yoga Farm
    • Ground Water. The area that we have chosen to focus our efforts this year has a lot of water through the year in the lower part and is quite dry in the higher part. It also is wetter around a lake and has a stream running along its border. This will allow us to plant a diverse amount of trees with different water requirements across the two hectares. The wet areas will include various types of willows, ash, dogwood, bamboo and alders. The dry areas wil, focus more on trees that exist in oak savanna such as oaks, strawberry trees, plums and cherries.
    • Irrigation. We will be investing in a new electric pump that will run off our solar system and irrigation pipes. The pump and 400meters of pipe and all connections will cost €600. However these pipes will get reused for future plantings as established trees will not need irrigating in this area (except in an extreme drought year)
  • Fire Although our land is relatively safe from fire as long as keep rotating sheep through to keep the grass down, we do need to protect our new forest.
    • We will move sheep pens around the boundary of the area just before the summer, this will ensure that the grass is completely eaten or crushed right down. this will be done on the outside until the trees are established and then moved onto the inside as well, doubling the fire break. The sheep will eat from the forest for the time it takes to move their pen around the forest.
    • Once the trees are established we will rotate animals through the forest to both keep the grass and shrubs down but also to bring fertility to the forest. This animals will then be eating from a forest, providing a yield and supporting the forest, we call this sustainable food. instead of unsustainable food which is vegetables or animals cultivated on land that was once a forest and is being kept from becoming a forest again. these plants require irrigation and fertiliser. the forest will just provide
    • Fire resistant trees will be planted around the boundary as part of the wind break. Included Loqouot, Fig, Various Oaks, Palownia, Carob, Mulberry and Strawberry Tree
    • The forest will not be dencly planted throughout to allow space for pastry and light to a shrub and ground cover layer whicah wil provide additional fire breaks.
    • Ploughing – as a last resort during a drought year where fire is common, onto of the above we will plough another line around the outside of the foret
  • Wind Breaks. The area that we are reforesting receives considerable high winds from the north and north west. We will plant a wind break line all around the fenced area. The north and west wind breaks will protect the area we are reforesting and the lake. The south wind break will protect out new community building and food forest for chickens and humans. The west side wind break will protect our food forest nursery and camping area. Reducing wind protects trees from damage, reduces evaporation and makes a more plestent place to live relax. Any work we do on the farm should give us as many rewards as possible and it made scene to focus on this area to also reduce wind around the farm. When selecting trees for the windbreak we will always try and include as many trees as possible that can provide a yield and in this area the yield will ideally be for animals to eat, so anything with fruits, nuts or edible leaves. As a bonus we may even forage from there but it is idea if the forest can support as much animal life as possible including domesticated animals that go through on rotation to keep the grasses down. The wind break will be planted dencly with three rows of trees with the plan to think out the trees once the slower growing trees establish. The windbreak/firebreak trees include Loquot, Cypress, Cedar, Fig, Oaks, Carob, Honey Locus and fruit trees. But these are resistant to fire and dont sto fire, so these must be backed up with a proper fire break of cleared land.
  • Invasiveness of some trees. Any tree of invasive nature that we are planting such as Honey Locus or Pawlona is infact kept from spreading by rotation of domesticated animals, the trees will infact supply free organic sustainable food to animals
  • Tree Nursary. To bring the costs down of the project we have invested in a  tree nursery area are propagated trees from both cuttings and seeds ready to plant in November. Thank you to those of you who donated towards the nursery. We have ash, various oaks, pomegranates, mulberries, sea blackthorns and willows ready to plant our this November. Each year we will grow the nursery to reduce the cost of buiying trees. We need to build a new shaded area for baby trees at a cost of €250
  • buy Trees. the cost of trees are between €1 and €30 each depending on the size and variety. we have estimated the cost for Novembers tree planting to be €1000 as we wish to include i diversity of tree species and size
  • Tools and equipment. Our neibour helps us with his tractor to cut the grass, however we needed to buy an attachment to cut the grass instead of ploughing which cost €700
  • Labour. The labour to install fencing, rotate animals and plant trees will come from our volunteers who pay a contribution toward theier food. All additional labour for managing the forest will be done by Laurence Manchee in his spare time.

Total funding required for November = €2800. The additional €3000 that was paid for the digging of the lake was paid for by Kimberly and Laurence Manchee.

Past reforestation efforts at Keela Yoga Farm:

Tree Planting
Volunteers at Keela Planting Oak, Cork and Chestnut seeds directly in the ground. In November 2016 we planted over 200 trees and 500 seeds

Why not buy some trees on behalf of a friend or yourself for us to plant and offset your carbon footprint? Click here . We will buy the plants on your behalf and we will fund collection, planting and irrigation.

The first tree we planted in the food forest was this Pomegranate

Please click here to learn more about food forests.

This hill on our land is full or Cork Oak, we plan to diversify this by planting other tree species
This hill on our land is full or Cork Oak, we plan to diversify this by planting other tree species


To forest or not to forest?
One of our fields to forest or not to forest?


Help us with reforestation by buying baby trees. You buy the trees, we will supply the manure, tools and volunteers to plant them. Baby trees range from 1 EUR for 5 trees to 1 EUR for 1 tree, or can be upto 10 EUR for larger trees.