The Companhia das Lezírias, S.A. was the winner of the 2014 edition of the Green Project Awards – Portugal, with the project “Companhia das Lezírias: forest management for biodiversity”.

A forest management system that favours ecosystem services alongside with goods produced is a strong focus of Companhia das Lezírias (CL). Since 2006 CL supports a number of research projects in order to (1) improve productivity, (2) increase knowledge about the natural capital and its relation to agro-forestry and ecosystem protection activities, and (3) promote social well-being, by creating jobs, knowledge and environmental awareness due to visitation and nature tourism.

Under this partnership LabOr has developed three projects in the grounds of CL, which allowed to answering three questions related to forest management for biodiversity:

Question 1 – How to mitigate the effect of landscape homogenization and degradation of watercourses, carried out for decades by agriculture and livestock, allowing a progressive increase in areas of distribution of species and a greater genetic contact between populations?

Within the project “Improvement and rehabilitation of temporary watercourses: enhancement of biodiversity in montados”, the temporary river Vale Zebro was recovered by planting willows, ash trees, wild roses, poplars and common hawthorns, and also by grazing exclusion. The increase of bio-indicators of riparian environments, such as the common nightingale, the melodious warbler and the Eurasian wren, revealed a clear evolution in the watercourse compared to the control area, which indicates the recovery of riparian vegetation and ecological function of the watercourse.

Question 2 – How to fight effectively and naturally the forest pests and diseases that affect pine and cork oak, without causing negative impacts on ecosystems?

Within the project “Impacts of forest and livestock management and the increase of nesting cavities on bird diversity: a potential for forest plagues control”, the LabOr carried out the installation of nest boxes in order to increase the populations of insectivorous birds. This proved to be an effective measure in combating diseases and forest pests, with a sharp decline in both pine processionary and cork oak defoliation.

Question 3 – How to provide shelter and prospective breeding conditions for juvenile Barn Owls during post-natal dispersion in the Tagus Estuary?

One of the actions carried out under the project TYTOTAGUS: barn owl postnatal dispersal in the Tagus Valley” consisted of installing nest boxes for the barn owl in Charneca do Infantado (CL), especially in open areas or in sparse montado, and using pre-existing building structures. The measure has proved successful, highlighting the importance that forest areas may have to the barn owl, particularly in the surroundings of the Tagus Estuary, where juveniles of this species assemble during post-natal dispersal.