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Native oak woodland restoration project with

What should be a thriving oak woodland is a now a green desert.

Located in the northeast of Portugal, this project aims to develop sustainable land management practices to deal with the ravenous summer wildfires and regenerate native oak woodland. The purpose of this project is dual, on the one hand we will be establishing a carbon sink to help store co2 on the other hand we will be creating diverse forests with a stronger capacity to resist and recover from wildfire.



Project Brief

A sea of combustible shrubs

The abandonment of farmland has allowed the Cytisus striatus (Portuguese Broom) to take a choke-hold on the mountainside.
In the summer this 3-metre high shrub dries up and becomes the perfect fuel for wildfires. In a land that deals with the reality of regular fires, this poses a very real threat to local populations. It also hinders the slow regeneration of the native fire-resistant oak woodlands.


The Outlook

This region naturally expects to have a wildfire every 8 – 12 years. The native oak trees are more resistant and will spring back to life within a few months. Slowly, through this process, the oaks would spread and in 100 – 150 years we would have the original woodland back. The problem is we cannot afford to wait so long. The current shrub vegetation burns intensely fast, which makes it impossible for firemen to manage. This means wildfires can quickly get out of control and kill people like they did in 2017.


Accelerating a natural process

In spring, together with local fireman and our partners Montis we use controlled fire to reduce fuel availability for deadly summer wildfires. Besides improving the safety this also clears the area allowing us to replant native oak trees and accelerate the forest regrowth process.

New Life: born from the ashes

Controlled fire burns at a low intensity and allows young oaks to survive. This means that within a few months they will spring back to life. If you look closely in this photo you will see the new oak shoots next to an old charred trunk. This happens because the root system survives the fire and then uses the extra nutrients to spring back to life. When they reach a certain age, this process goes even further, instead of having to start from the roots the tree will use the same trunk to grow new leaves and branches.
Immediate Impact
After the first controlled fire intervention a few immediate positive impacts are already visible. The ashes improve the nutrition of the soil (top-left and top right photos). The few young oaks which dotted the intervention area sprung back to life much faster than other plants (bottom left). Finally, an increase in young shoots and small flowers has led to an increase in rabbit populations and insect biodiversity.

The man on the ground

Luís Lopes is our man on the ground. He manages the day to day work at the mountainside and knows it like the back of his hand.
He loves showing people around and explaining the work and progress that Montis does on site.


The Vision

The photos show a 15-year-old oak forest. The shade manages the shrub overgrowth, fuel availability is lower, biodiversity in terms of flora and fauna is higher. Our lovely namesake moss makes a comeback! This is why we are planting our first 2000 trees here in the Autumn 2017, and why you should own a few.


For more information about the Mossy Earth project or any of the Camino de Santiago routes please contact our team.



  1. By Lisa

    Hi Swanee, what a generous thought. I will certainly speak to the team on the ground to see when the planting season begins for 2018. I am sure that they will appreciate your offer to help. I know that they have a dedicated local team that have been assisting them so far. I would love to get out myself too in 2018 so let’s see what is involved. Once I hear from the team on the ground I will let you know. Best wishes, Lisa.

  2. By Swanee Gan

    Hi! Lisa.
    I will like to be physically planting trees in the project, if possible. I will be more than happy to be involved in this activity if I can for the period into my schedule. Will gladly fly to Portugal to get involved, but only if I can fit this into my schedule. Let me know asap as I am working my schedule for 2018.

  3. By Lisa

    Hi Richard, thank you so much. We are thinking of everyone in the US and California areas at the moment. Wild fires are certainly an issue that can have a devastating consequences and we hope that more of these projects will be supported in the future. Best wishes, Lisa from CaminoWays.

  4. By Lisa

    Hi CJ, it costs €12 to plant the tree in the area that we are currently reforesting in Northern Portugal. The team at Mossy Earth will be grateful for any support that we can give them. Kindest wishes, Lisa from CaminoWays.

  5. By Lisa

    Hi Mary, thank you very much for your kind comment. We are so delighted to be helping with the wonderful project and will keep you updated with all of the progress. Best wishes, Lisa from CaminoWays.

  6. By Mary o neill

    I fully support your great initiative and would like to become involved in a hands on way if possible…… I love trees and what you are doing is help heal the earth in such a direct way…….bravo to all involved
    Please contact me re this

  7. By CJ

    Hello – what does it cost to plant a tree? thanks

  8. By Richard Keith Oehlschlager

    From my experience with the far western USA I can easily sympathize with the problem arid forests suffer everywhere. Speeding recovery with your project of reforestation with seedlings is sensible and deserves support.

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