Integrated European
Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and
socio-ecological Research

The Portuguese LTsER Montado platform currently has several active research projects

24 July 2023

The Portuguese LTsER Montado platform currently has several active research projects:

- Project RENEWAL aims tot promote the resilience of agroforestry systems in drylands to a more arid future, ensuring ecosystem functions and services. It addresses climate change effects on oak woodlands (montados), semi-natural agroforestry systems of high ecological and socio-economic importance, that are an important ecosystem type southern Portugal. Montados are highly vulnerable to climate change and are currently in decline due to multiple interacting environmental factors, coupled with unsustainable land use.

RENEWAL´s aim is to use complementary biodiversity metrics of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity as indicators of resilience to climate of key ecological functions in these semi-arid systems, to promote their resilience to climate change and to inform land management strategies and decision-making.

This ongoing project uses a spatiotemporal correlational approach, studying these indicators along space and over time at different scales, complemented by drought-induced manipulative experiments. The manipulative experiments are installed at three Research and Monitoring Stations of the montado Long-term Ecological Research platform (, namely at Companhia das Lezírias, Herdade da Ribeira Abaixo and Herdade da Coitadinha.

- The project LandUnderPressure - Avoiding, mitigating and restoring land under pressure to combat desertification and increase resilience to climate change in the montado (2022-2023) - is financed by the EEA Grants and is being developed in LTER montado areas. The project will operate at two scales. On a regional scale, which covers all areas of the more arid Alentejo, the goal is to determine the reference productivity level of the Montado, and its tendency to increase or decrease in recent years, to support Land Degradation Neutrality policies. On a more local scale, it involves the implementation of a pilot restoration test at Herdade da Coitadinha in Barrancos, through grazing management. The objective is to promote the regeneration of the Montado and boost various ecosystem services, for example improving soil fertility and erosion control, climate regulation and biodiversity, including the enhancement of nature tourism. The results of the project will make it possible to identify areas most vulnerable to desertification and the most suitable places to implement different restoration measures. The results will be disseminated through different means and to different audiences, in permanent dialogue and collaboration with our partners and with local and regional stakeholders.

- The project REA Alentejo (COMPETE 2020 REACT-EU/2021), running in LTER montado areas from 2022 to 2023, has the general objective of gathering, producing, and disseminating the knowledge necessary to identify the strategies, methods and techniques for restoring Mediterranean ecosystems in the Lower Alentejo interior, as a way of reducing their vulnerability to desertification and the effects on the supply of ecosystem services. The aim is to create a replicable model that allows restoring agricultural and forestry productivity in the semi-arid areas of southeastern Portugal, which enhances an improvement in soil health, the functioning of ecosystems and, consequently, the quality of life of rural communities. The project's activities aim at i) the protection and rehabilitation of soil and degraded ecosystems in areas susceptible to desertification, by mapping the potential for success of reforestation in semi-arid agroforestry systems, their improvement and restoration and the cost-benefit analysis of different intervention models; ii) the promotion of scientific knowledge regarding the regeneration of holm oaks and cork oaks in the face of predicted climatic conditions, testing measures to support the establishment and initial survival of these species in different climatic conditions; iii) experimental evaluation of changes in rainfall parameters and mapping of desertification risk and restoration hotspots.

- The main objective of the Fight Desert project (COMPETE 2020 REACT-EU/2021) is to develop actions in areas susceptible to desertification. Actions for the improvement and restoration of Mediterranean ecosystems will be implemented in six locations in Alentejo and Lezíria, namely in three LTER Montado Sites (research and monitoring stations of the Long-Term Ecological Studies platform): Companhia das Lezírias, Herdade da Ribeira Abaixo (FCUL) and Coitadinha (EDIA) guaranteeing long-term monitoring; and in three more properties located in the parishes of Mora, Samora Correia and Azinheira dos Barros and São Mamede do Sado.

These actions will be monitored to guarantee the success of reforestation and consolidation, as well as the improvement of the quality and functionality of the soil and its biodiversity, in order to carry out a landscape and ecological recovery. Additionally, three Pilot Tests will be implemented, aiming at increasing the territory's resilience to desertification considering various climate scenarios (decreased precipitation and increased soil erosion), two in the three LTER sites and a third in an intensive agricultural area. These essays will give special emphasis to the Mediterranean agroforestry systems of oak trees: the cork oak and holm oak forests, emblematic formations that are among the most vulnerable and that have been suffering from low natural regeneration, high mortality of adults and low success of forestry actions in Portugal. These actions will result in a set of good practices whose ultimate objective will be to increase the success rate of actions to combat desertification in Portugal in the context of supporting the climate transition.

Focus areas of the projects