Herdade da Coitadinha - Portugal
Herdade da Coitadinha
Herdade da Coitadinha is one of the six research and monitoring stations of LTER-Montado, an umbrella site located in the Alentejo province in south Portugal (southwestern Iberia). The "Montado" represents an unique agro-silvo-pastoral ecosystem (named "dehesa" in Spain) found only in the Mediterranean basin. These savannah-like landscapes are dominated by evergreen cork and/or holm oaks and were shaped over millennia of traditional land use practices. These multi-use forests are two-layered systems that combine, in a single space, forest harvesting, extensive livestock husbandry, pastures and/or cereal cultivation (the most evident economical revenues), with other traditional uses (hunting, beekeeping and mushroom picking). Recently, increasing awareness arose on their benefits as biodiversity reservoirs, recreation grounds, and other ecosystem services providers, but these non-productive functions are not equally perceived and valued by users, as they tend to be conflicting with productive ones. Herdade da Coitadinha is a state-run property, located in the bank tributary of the Guadiana River, in the Alentejo province, 200 km south-east Lisbon and 8 km from Barrancos (38º10’32’’N – 7º02’22’’W). Holm oak (Quercus ilex) is the dominant tree type. The site was bought by EDIA as a biodiversity offset to the building of the Alqueva dam, and so it is currently managed as a nature protection area (Parque Natureza de Noudar; www.parquenoudar.com). Management is made to promote biodiversity, while demonstrating the compatibility with land uses such as cattle grazing (0.5 livestock units/ha), winter fattening of black pigs, hunting (mostly wild boar), and eco-tourism. Holm oak woodlands are managed to promote natural regeneration, increase acorn production and maintaining tree health. In the foreseeable future the site will maintain its current land use, and so there are no imminent threats to the montado system. The main problem is the spread of oak tree diseases and mortality, which in the mid-term may impair the health of the ecosystem. Fire is a permanent threat, but there is thorough fire surveillance during the periods of high risk.
General Characteristics and Status