REACT MORE – the Moreirolas Action Project to Reforest and Combat Desertification, yesterday brought together a range of experts to discuss the subject of desertification.
Running in the municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, the Itinerant Conference REACT MORE: From desertification to forest enhancement was attended by several researchers from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) and the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança (IPB), as well as representatives of companies connected to the cork sector and the use of acorns. Also present were project promoters José Gaspar, President of Florestgal, Carlos Fonseca, CTO of CoLAB ForestWISE, Armando Pacheco, President of the Association of Traditional and Environmental Agricultural Producers (APATA), and Carlos Condesso, Mayor of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.
The president of FlorestGal, José Gaspar, referred to the need to create forest systems capable of adapting to climate change, with adaptive management that allows them to provide different goods and services that are relevant to society. He also highlighted the REACT MORE project’s example and the ability of the monitoring mechanisms tested to be a prototype applicable to other projects, stressing the need to transform and recover spaces such as Quinta de Moreirolas, using native and more resilient species. The CTO of CoLAB ForestWISE, Carlos Fonseca, highlighted that projects such as REACT MORE and actions like this are fundamental to raising public awareness of the phenomenon of desertification and the work that can be done in terms of agroforestry management, namely the adaptation of species such as the cork oak, which bring real socio-economic benefits to the territory. Finally, Armando Pacheco, from APATA, mentioned the need for producers to adapt to climate change in order to maintain the profitability of their activities, generating more jobs and business opportunities in agriculture.
This awareness-raising action included a shared visit to various locations in the municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, where good and bad forestry practices were observed that can contribute to mitigating or increasing the effects of desertification. The event took place in an itinerant format and culminated in a workshop about the use and enhancement of local products associated with the forest in gastronomy.
At the kick-off of the Itinerant Conference, participants heard João Santos, Full Professor at UTAD’s Physics Department, and João Cabral, Associate Professor at UTAD’s Biology and Environment Department, talk about climate change, particularly its influence on agroforestry activities. In the next thematic station, Tomás Figueiredo, Coordinating Professor at IPB, spoke about soils and the influence of desertification on them. In the following stage, Mário Santos, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Environment at UTAD, spoke about Biodiversity, namely its benefits and the consequences of a territory with low biodiversity. The last station was attended by Emília Silva, Assistant Professor at UTAD, in the Department of Forestry Sciences and Landscape Architecture, and Rita Beltrão Martins, co-founder of Terrius, a food agrotourism company based in Alto Alentejo, and Francisco Carvalho, Executive Director of Amorim Florestal and Director of CoLAB ForestWISE, who spoke about the socio-economic development of the territory, namely the adaptation of the cork oak to the region, the potential for using cork and its importance for these territories at a socio-economic level, and the development of the holm oak by-product, acorns.
In this awareness-raising action, REACT MORE also mobilized representatives of the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests, several presidents of parish councils in the municipality, among other entities and organizations committed to studying the phenomenon of desertification, climate change, forest enhancement and the sustainable development of rural areas.