For our campaign we support the association “Reflorestar Portugal” and donate one tree for every sold pair. An international group that works for recovering the Portuguese forests, which suffer from the every year occurring wildfires.
Here the interview with the founders.
Can you describe the project, association “Reflorestar Portugal”.
What are you doing?
We are an Association that aims to inform, bring awareness and inspire the understanding and practical solutions for ecological and human regeneration.
We organize and promote lectures, courses and workshops in the field of eco-literacy and we provide consulting services in the field of forest management.
We implement and stimulate work meetings and gatherings that facilitate collaborative partnerships among all those who share our goal: the elevation of human capacity to cooperate for the regeneration of planet Earth.
What were the reasons you found the association?
After the wild fires in Portugal on the summer of 2017, that devasted over 500 000 hct of land and killed 106 people and uncountable animals, we decided to take action to create a national movement to bring together people from diferent backgrounds, from Agroforestry to Land Design, Regenerative Economies and collaborative tools, to co-create solutions and strategies in order to have a real impact on the bigger picture that causes these agressive events to happen.
It is no longer enough to want to know, be informed or talk about it. The rescue of life support systems on our planet has reached the critical point on which we have to act, collectively, to be fast, impactful, and effective.
Human Action requires Communication, Cooperation, Community. These three Cs are the basis for action with a global impact, acting locally in each country and each region. Our goal is to facilitate and promote this Human regeneration hand in hand with regenerating our Soils, Forests and protect our native seeds.
Can you tell us a bit about the present situation of the forests in Portugal?
The native forests in Portugal are lower then 30% of what is considered Forest areas at this point. Although Portugal has a large space considered to be forest, it has been dominated by monocultures of Eucalyptus and Pines for timber and paper industries mainly. Also, intensive olive trees monocultures and the spreading of intensive green houses for berry production (and more recently avocados monocultures in the south). This has a great impact on the abandonment of land, causing Rural Exodus and leaving all of this land basically unattended and unrelated to local communities culture. There is no space or support for family-based agricultural production.
Over time, young people don´t go back to their family lands and most of those lands are not taken care or even annually managed properly, which leaves space for all sorts of problems. The national governance had a huge impact on promoting this abandonment, by closing health care facilities and schools all over rural areas, from north to south, as well as charging tolls on the main connection roads, that were supposed to be free. All this social and economical framing makes it very hard for younger populations, even those who wish to live in rural areas, to be able to go back.
There is an urgent need for preservation of the biodiversity of plant and animal life and the few native forest have a priceless value and must be protected, but every single year are facing very aggressive wild fires, fed by eucalyptus monocultures and unmanaged private lands.
Which are your strategies to improve that?
Sharing Knowledge by giving courses, talks, trainings, organizing community actions, as seed collection;
Inspiring by involving local comunities with the landscape and their ancestral culture.
Researching on finding alternative ways to create more resilient economies based on regenerative products and circular economy formats;
Promoting and supporting all those testing and implementing those solutions, so it becomes examples for all people, from all social and cultural backgrounds. We work with communities, private landowners, agencies, public services, intentional communities, everybody is needed in such a dramatic moment our ecosystems are facing.
Empowering local communities through sharing knowledge and connecting them to the network of already existing projects we support, doing good ecological practices. To feel part of something bigger that is happening all over the country and the planet, empowers us all to move forward and collectively.
What are your biggest challenges?
Old paradigms and maintaining clear communication clear between all groups we work with. Also, managing different perspectives and personal agendas, so we would say, the human aspect of regenerating our ecosystems is the most challenging vector.
Where do you see “Reflorestar Portugal” in the future? What are your plans, or wishes?
We plan to Reforest land throughout the country with regenerative practices, connecting and empowering communities. Regenerate and integrate.
Once that is taking place, we want to send our teams to work in other places of the planet.
You can support our campaign on Indiegogo and pre-order your pair of sustainable barefoot shoes made under fair conditions with natural materials entirely in Portugal.