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COORDINATION: Pedro Beja (Erena, Lda).

CEABN TEAM: Ana Luísa Soares, Francisco Castro Rego (Coordination), Maria da Conceição Colaço, Ricardo Silva Guedes, Rui Guerreiro e Susana Dias.

OTHER INSTITUTIONS: ERENA, Ordenamento e Gestão de Recursos Naturais, Lda., Associação de Defesa do Património de Mértola, Associação de Produtores Florestais da Serra do Caldeirão e Associação IN LOCO.

In recent years, increases in the continuous expanses of shrubland associated with the abandonment of agricultural and pastoral activities, the growing concerns with forest fires, and the availability of funding for forest improvement, have justified large scale shrub-clearing practices in cork oak woodland landscapes.

From the perspective of sustainable forest management, it is necessary that such sylvicultural practices are conducted in a way compatible with the conservation of biodiversity and the multi-use of forest resources.

To meet these goals, vegetation management in cork oak landscapes should guarantee the presence of varied habitat mosaics, including patches of mature Mediterranean maquis, which favour the exploitation of several secondary forest resources and that are essential for the conservation of highly endangered plant and animal species.

This project addressed these issues, focusing on the problem of making the management of vegetation in cork oak landscapes compatible with the sustainable use of forest resources, in areas of the Algarve uplands which have very high value for both cork production and biodiversity conservation.

The project was developed at two complementary levels:

(1) demonstration at the forest stand scale of the effects of shrub-clearing practices on fire risks, biodiversity, scenic quality and secondary forest resources (wild fruits and mushrooms, honey and aromatic plants, and game species); 

(2) extrapolation to the landscape scale of results obtained at the stand level, so as to develop and demonstrate vegetation management scenarios that optimize the multiple objectives of forest use.

Results of the project were then used to prepare publications and contents multimedia, to participate in congresses and seminars, and to undertake visits and technical workshops with forest landowners and managers, in order to communicate the best approaches for the management of shrub vegetation in cork oak forest landscapes.

Documents available for download: