Autumn 2018 reforestation efforts

We plan to reforest 18 hectares of land to offset carbon and attract wildlife. This winter with the help of volunteers, friends, neighbors and donations we have planted a forest in more than one hectare of it. Read on for a full update.

So far we have:

  • Summer 2017: A new lake was dug to provide water for the trees planted in the reforestation effort and provide habitat for wildlife
  • Spring 2018: We put in new fence posts around the area for reforestation whilst the soil was wet and posts were easy to put in
  • Summer 2018: A wire fence was installed around the 1 hectare area round the new lake for the 2018 reforestation program to keep sheep and other animals out of the area (as they will eat the trees). This was done in summer so the fence could be pulled tight with a tractor and not move the fence posts as the soil is hard during the summer months
  • Autumn 2018: We planted over 200 trees in this field with over 40 varieties (see rest of this blog post below for more info)
  • Autumn 2018 we intensively planted a new food forest on a 1/2 hectare area (we treat our food forests seperate to our reforestation program so the info is not included below)
  • Summer 2018: A stone wall was created along the field where water moves in the winter, this is so topsoil and organic matter does not wash away and instead gets stuck against the stone wall and forms a terrace. This was also done higher up the slope with a long pile of bio mass (woodchips, hay, mimosa, oak tree prunings and broom)
reforestation portugal
Over the past two years we have been growing trees from seeds and cuttings which have now all been planted in the new area

Some of the principles we have included in the planning and planting:

  • The majority of the trees we have planted are native to Portugal
  • In order to block the north prevailing winds, a windbreak of fast growing trees has been planted on the north side of the food forest with another row of slow growing windbreak trees in front of these
  • We are looking for a 50% canopy coverage of the field to allow space for grasses, shrubs and wildflowers to flourish
  • In between the planned permanent trees, we have planted fast growing trees that will cover 100% of the canopy. These can be used for timber or fire wood and can be thinned out over the years (offsetting additional carbon)
  • Shrubs, herbs and groundcovers have been planted between many of the trees
  • Mostly fire resistant trees have been planted
  • We have planted trees in three areas:
    • Wet area – for water loving trees
    • Dry area – for more drought resistant trees
    • Around the lake – trees to shade the lake to reduce evaporation
  • Tree seeds have also been planted around the borders to offer an additional wind break and for carbon offsetting
  • We have planted a lot of trees, herbs and seeds all at once and left room for trees that may die. This is because we plan to introduce animals on rotation to keep the grasses and low hanging branches down to reduce fire risk as soon as possible. If we just planted some of the field and had to replant trees in future years it would delay the introduction of animals (as the trees need to establish first), thus increasing manual work to cut grass and reduce fire risk
Spreading mushroom Spores
We spread mushroom spores around the forest. This was done by collecting mushrooms from around the land, soaking them in water and watering all around the forest with the spores

Trees planted include:

  • Hybrid Poplar
  • Cypress
  • Figs
  • Strawberry tree
  • Loquat
  • Cork
  • Holm Oak
  • Pyrenees Oak
  • 2 types of Ash tree
  • Weeping willow
  • Basket willow
  • Common Myrtle
  • Various succulents
  • Elm trees
  • Bottle brush tree
  • Common Juniper
  • Two types of wild plum
  • Wild* pear
  • Wild* peaches
  • Wild* persimmons
  • Pomegranate
  • Oleander
  • Many Herbs (sage, rosemary, lavender, wormwood)
  • Ivy
  • Wild* strawberry
  • Wild* apple
  • Siberian Pea Shrub
  • Black Elderberry
  • Red Elderberry
  • Black Lace Elderberry
  • Bay Leaf Tree
  • Laurel Tree
  • Russian Olive
  • Wild* Olive
  • Wild* Chestnut
  • Two types of maple trees
  • Hawthorns
  • Wild Almond
  • Quince trees
  • Lime Tree (Tilia)

*A wild tree is a fruit tree that has been grown from seed. These usually do not give good tasting fruits but they will be enjoyed by birds and insects. However there is a chance that they could give better tasting fruit for humans to eat. Usually the fruit that we eat comes from cloned trees which are from cuttings or have been grafted.

Trees for reforestation
This is one of 5 trailers of trees that we planted

Thank you for your help, including:

  • Those of you that donated money towards the tree planting. We raised 460 EUR which was 100% spent on buying trees and fencing, including established trees and small saplings
  • Our volunteers who planted the trees
  • Mount of Oaks, Projecto Rejenarar, Vale de Cerdeira, The Singing Quinta and our neighbours for donating trees from their farms
Planting seeds of trees and shrubs
reforestation portuga
Cuttings and baby trees donated to us by Tito from Projecto Rejenarar

Future plans:

  • To fence another hectare of land on the northern side of the property to keep the sheep out. This part of the land is half fenced, cost will be around €300
    • We will purchase fence posts from a local sustainable chestnut forest (chestnut does not need to be treated) which will cost around €170
    • We need 200 metres of fence which will cost €140 and put this up in the summer
  • Create swales on contour to help the land hold more water with a tractor (costing €100 per day to hire)
  • Next winter we will plant the following trees:
    • A line of Cypress trees as a fire and wind break along the 250 metre long side at 1 meter intervals. 250 x €60 per tree = €150
    • We will plant more native trees such as wild cherry, olive, strawberry tree, holm oak, cork, fig and loquat. Approximately 200 trees at .60c each  = €120, and 30 trees at €6 = €180
    • Install irrigation pipes – €200
    • Plant a hedge row around all of the fence line so when the fence starts to breakdown in 20-30 years there will be a natural fence in its place. This will allow for the rotation of animals through the forests so they can sustainably manage the fire risk in the forest for us by eating baby trees, long grass and low hanging branches
  • Other items:
    • Bring in mulch from other parts of the farm
    • Make compost piles and spread around new trees
    • Spread fungus around the field
    • Management of the new forest including trimming, watering and observing

Total cost for the next phase will be €1060 with around 77 working days. We need to raise €1060 for phase 2 of our reforestation efforts. If we manage to raise more we will increase the area that we wish to reforest in phase 2.

Some of the trees bought with the last minute donations to go into our windbreak

To donate to our reforestation program please click here

This is the north view of the field with trees planted (mostly looking like twigs sticking out of the ground)
Basket willow planted in a circle with the plan to create a shaded area by joining them all together in the middle

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