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Land regeneration: transforming chaos into life

land regeneration project

At SilveiraTech we have the mission to regenerate the land known as Casal da Silveira - 220 hectares of mountain forest in Serra da Lousã, Portugal. Our goal is to increase biodiversity, mitigate the effects of climate change, and create effective strategies to combat both water and soil erosion.

Through different ecological methodologies, we’re focused on guaranteeing the most favorable conditions so that life can become the amazing, abundant, and multiplying force that will increase the system’s resilience as a whole.

This is our first large-scale land regeneration project. Our goal here is to preserve and increase the number of native species and bring back the natural equilibrium of Serra da Lousã through reforestation works and the protection of its hydrographic basin.

This area sits quite close to the village of Silveira de Baixo and will include terraces beaming with native trees and edible bushes coupled with natural dams and pools that will help establish an ideal microclimate for the increase of biodiversity in the spot.

Our first land regeneration intervention in the area started in January. We cleaned the land through a clear-cut of the existing trees - a eucalyptus monoculture - and started building the terraces.

The terraces vary from 15 to 85 meters in length and 3.5 to 4.5 meters in height. The Riparian Forest will be regenerated through a pattern that starts at the water line:

  • 0-10 meters from the water line: none or almost no intervention, to preserve the native species within the creeks;

  • 10-30 meters from the water line: planting of pioneers - native trees and bushes with high resilience against droughts;

  • 30-50 meters from the water line: planting of productive trees and bushes, native and exotic, to produce food both for humans and animals alike.

For this kind of land regeneration work, a lot of planning and detailed execution have to be performed. Here are the steps that guided us through the completion of this project:

  1. Site choice The key to consider is the access to the site (roads, pathways, etc) and the availability of water, materials, and tools.

  2. Design and intervention planning Here, we look at the land regeneration area and start defining it according to our needs, coupling site observations with geo-location software and laser levelers to have all the relevant data to start designing the intervention.

  3. Clearing the site Here we clear-cut all non-native trees and their bushes. The wood can be sold or processed to be used later as organic matter.

  4. Earthworks - Building the terraces This is where the chaotic element of land regeneration reaches its pinnacle. It’s not pretty to watch a bulldozer moving, digging, and throwing tonnes of soil and rock around; but it’s a necessary part of the process!

  5. Manuring and soil prep After analyzing the soil in the terraces, we apply the carefully selected manure in appropriate quantity to guarantee the success of the planting process.

  6. Seeding/Planting Distribution of the seeds and plants according to the objectives of each zone of the land.

  7. Mulching After planting, we cover the soil with organic matter. This can be done with wood chips or straw, to preserve moisture and promote life in the soil, creating the ideal environment for the germination of seeds.

  8. Site management After the implementation of the land regeneration project, several activities need to be performed for it to succeed. Selective thinning and cutting, clearings, harvestings, planting, etc. This is necessary so that we can improve the long-term chances of a successful implementation. Nature is very dynamic and needs much work and love to thrive. Through the application of the right mix of techniques and methodologies, what was once a “dead place” can become a new biodiversity hotspot.

Through careful planning, attention to detail, and an understanding of ecological methodologies, SilveiraTech has begun the process of regenerating 220 hectares of mountain forest. And we are calling to all those interested in helping us - with their skills, knowledge, or their curiosity - to come and be a part of this journey with us!


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