Life in Common Land begins peatlands restoration work by removing pinewoods
Related - 02/09/2021
The Serra do Xistral had a large plantation of red pine (Pinus sylvestris) on the surface of the peatlands. In order to protect these plantations, huge firebreaks were dug, using human power and hoes, and their traces can still be seen on the Xistral hills. This action was carried out some 60 years ago and the planted areas were closed to grazing and the local people had to withdraw their animals.
Today, these pine woods diversify the landscape of the Serra do Xistral, provide a habitat for certain animal species, and even serve as shelter for cattle and horses from the strong winds. At the same time, the presence of pine forests in peatlands causes habitat deterioration and can influence the floristic diversity and the presence of species of interest, and can even affect their capacity to capture carbon by storing it in the peat.
LIFE in Common Land is carrying out conservation actions in some areas of the Sierra to remove these pine forests in order to restore peatland conditions. These are demonstrative actions that are carried out in specific places rather than extending to the whole area of peatland with pine forest cover (around 200 hectares). So far, work has begun on 13 hectares. These actions are always carried out in agreement with the Common Land Communities.
Both peatlands and wet heaths are very sensitive and the work carried out on them must be designed in such a way as not to damage the vegetation or the soil. Thus, it is generally not possible to harvest using forestry tractors driving in the working area. For this reason, and with the help of forestry consultants with whom we work, we design different types of demonstrative work to tackle the felling and removal of these pine forests.
In the Common Land (MVMC) of Tenente, a chainsaw cutting is being carried out, followed by the removal of whole trees, dragged by a cable pulled by a tractor from the track.
In the MVMC of A Balsa, the Portuguese Association of Animal Traction in collaboration with the company SETEGA is also carrying out a felling and, afterwards, the whole trees are transported on sledges, designed specifically for this work, which are pulled up to the track by a cable pulled by a tractor.
These actions are possible thanks to the Common Land Communities, as without the involvement of the owners and managers it would not be possible to make progress in the recovery of these valuable and priority areas to be conserved by the European Union.