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21-23 MARCH 2017

Final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia

Ecosystem services support thriving business in Portuguese montado

During a meeting of the user board of the OPERAs project (the European research project with which OpenNESS cooperates on operationalising natural capital and ecosystem services) we visited an agricultural enterprise in the montado. The montado is the Portuguese version of the unique Iberian cork oak landscape that is known for its high level of biodiversity and its scenic beauty. In OPERAs one of their ‘exemplars’ is the Companhia das Lezirias, a large estate that practises sustainable agriculture to produce cork, rice, maize, meat, olives and so forth. This is combined with recreational and educational services and a high level of biodiversity. The area, covering nearly 13,000 ha in the hillsides just north of Lisbon, is to a large extent recognized as a Natura 2000 area because of its high nature value at a European scale. Also, it is one of the research sites as part of the LTER-Europe network (Long-Term Ecosystem Research). The President of the domain proudly said that caring for the ecosystems and the environment went hand in hand with profitable business.

A key message that came out of the guided visit, combined with tasting the Tyto alba wines produced on the domain, is that, in order to ensure the long-term maintenance of the rich agro-forestry ecosystem of the montados it is essential to keep using real cork stoppers for wine bottles. This product forms the largest use of the traditionally harvested oak bark. If no cork stoppers would be produced anymore, a centuries-old landscape is doomed to disappear.

The OPERAs user board held its second annual meeting in Lisbon to look at progress made in the OPERAs project and whether the project’s results suitably fit the user needs. They also provided input in the further development of the joint oppla platform. Agro-biodiversity and Agricultural Biodiversity.

Photo: Montado Companhia das Lezirias and a bottle of Tyto alba wine © Ben Delbaere