Rewilding in the Algarve – Two Case Studies

recently Mediterranean Gardening Association Portugal The (MGAP) event focused on two case studies near Algiersur showing re-wildness in Algarve.

The morning visit was originally a commercial eucalyptus intensive plantation, but when a new owner acquired the land, the priority was to bring it back to nature with minimal intervention.

After discussions between biologist Udo Schwarzer and landscape architect Claudia Schwarzer, a member of the RWSW Rewilding Sudoeste, it was agreed to cut down eucalyptus and remove timber.

Be Orchid Ophrysapifera
Be Orchid Ophrysapifera

The remaining stumps were then lifted and left exposed to soil surface elements. Since it was important to reduce the impact of initial work, we monitored small machines in the field to limit damage to soil and new vegetation.

This was all that was needed to provide the ideal conditions for the rest of the natural seed banks to regenerate. The resulting natural woodlands are fun to see, and the 25 years in between have shown a gradual but spectacular return of oaks, cystas, arbutos, and fungi and orchids.

As a result, many benefits were immediately apparent. This place is located in the humider coastal zone of western Algarve, which gives woody plants excellent growth conditions. Their diversity is attractive to birds, insects, reptiles and other animals.



Leaf fall has improved the soil of shorter-lived plants such as orchids and wild flowers. Pollination by the wind of oak provided jays with acorns and provided a good source of food for other animals. Areas rich in this species are many times more refractory than the original single cultivation of eucalyptus.

The emerging forest types on this site are fully native and fully adapted to conditions that do not require irrigation or fertilizer. This provides a very cost-effective way to achieve the desired “rewilding”.

Go through the forestGo through the forest
Go through the forest
Corrupted eucalyptus stumpCorrupted eucalyptus stump
Corrupted eucalyptus stump

This site shows the benefits of doing nothing and leading the reconstruction of landscapes that have been damaged by nature. This is known as rewilding.See before and after photos

Case study 2

We had the opportunity to visit mature virgin forests nearby and enjoyed a shaded walk in the afternoon under the canopy of a variety of trees. This site is characterized by being one of the first protected sites in Portugal (APPVA, Área Protegida Privada Vale das Amoreiras). This included a lengthy, intensive investigation and evaluation prior to approval.

Epipactis tremolsiiEpipactis tremolsii
Epipactis tremolsii
Leaf moldLeaf mold
Leaf mold

The reserve occupies 10.8 hectares and is almost entirely deciduous oak grove and cork oak forest. The most notable trees are, in addition to the oak, some types of oak, including: Quercus marianica, Quercus faginea, Quercus coccifera When Quercusxcoutinhoi. Quercus estremadurensis, Southern oak species and rare Iberian endemic species have the southernmost population in this protected area.

Many vines have witnessed the diversity and times of the forest. It was a surprise to notice the cool and humid atmosphere under the trees on a very warm spring day.

Monshike OakMonshike Oak
Monshike Oak
Wild bee houseWild bee house
Wild bee house

The site is steep, but no erosion is seen and rainfall is maintained. The soft ground showed a fertile layer of organic matter inhabited by 85 species of fungi and mushrooms. There is also a wonderful natural heritage of moss, and there is a variety that has not yet been discovered.

The afternoon group was accompanied by Jack Golds, also a member of RWSW Rewilding Sudoeste, who grew up in Aljezur and is a bee rewilding specialist. An example of urticaria made from natural materials is shown, one of which was already spontaneously inhabited by wild bees. This is another layer of rich biodiversity in this place. It was an exciting and uplifting day to show what we could do in the face of the horrific heritage of the eucalyptus-affected areas.

Hosts Udo Schwarzer, Jack Golds, Claudia SchwarzerHosts Udo Schwarzer, Jack Golds, Claudia Schwarzer
Hosts Udo Schwarzer, Jack Golds, Claudia Schwarzer

Members of the RWSW Rewilding Sudoeste Association were responsible for developing management plans for privately owned reserves and used this site as a venue for environmental education activities. Especially as a model for future primeval forests of spontaneous growth in southwestern Portugal.

See below for events and volunteer opportunities from RWSW Rewilding Sudoeste.

More information:

To Rosie Peddle

289 791 869 |

Shade walkShade walk
Shade walk Rewilding in the Algarve – Two Case Studies

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