Ecosystem Regeneration of Gravito & Libelinha

This is a combined ecosystem regeneration project between Miguel and Xavier who own properties located near the town of Pedrógao Grande: "Gravito Retreat Centre" and "Libelinha Venture". Our aim is to be part of the pioneer movement that is co-creating the abundance that this land is meant to have, by bringing the seeds that the animals will spread to regenerate the ecosystem. By doing this work our mission is to prove locally and internationally that there is an efficient way to heal the land.

To date we have started to regenerate a combined 7 hectares of land, planted more that 3,000 trees and invested over €400,000 into this land-regeneration project. From purchasing the land, removing the burnt Eucalyptus trees, implementing the ground works to create the blank canvas, buying machines and tools, adding nutrients to the soil, employing experts and funding volunteers - all with the aim to kickstart the reforestation regeneration process.

However it is at this point where the projects stall.........

This is where you, the general public, come into play. By making a donation you will help us achieve our goal, allowing us to continue with the process and fast-forward the lands' path to recovery.

At the same time you will be supporting a project whose mission is to change the mindset of people, through education, to move from monoculture into biodiversity, offering the opportunity of hands-on experience, with area-specific experts, to give people the knowledge to  implement their own reforestation projects. 

“Through working together we can move from monoculture into biodiversity, we can prove that there is another way to manage land that can be beneficial to all life involved.”

HOW WE REGENERATE THE LAND:

We are not just about planting trees.   

We focus on a complete ground-up eco-restoration process that incorporates the following: 

- Implementation of water management systems. Natural reservoirs that are filled by rain water run off, soak-away pools to manage the excess water during heavy rains, and swales to slow the progress of water from the hill side, increasing ground water dramatically and so benefitting any tree that will be planted in the future.

- Soil regeneration through adding a wide mixture of nutrient-rich resources to the existing soil; wood chips, compost, manure, biochar, minerals, straw, mulch and nitrogen-fixing plants, all soaked in a natural compost and mycelium tea.

- Adopting an agro-forest syntropic design in the classic style of Ernst Gotsch. Planting trees, bushes and shrubs organised in stratas and succession. Reintroducing biodiverse and indigenous plant species to regenerate the land. 

- Long-term management, offering the opportunity for people and families who join our project to become guardians of the land.

OUR STORY:

In April 2017, Xavier and his new partner Arantxa left Malta for a three-week road trip in Portugal, to explore the country with the aim of purchasing a plot of land to start their journey towards a sustainable lifestyle.

While staying at the hamlet of Gravito, Xavier and Arantxa fell in love with the surrounding villages, markets, swimming spots and areas of natural beauty. Here, they met and felt an instant connection with Miguel, who had spent 7 years lovingly and meticulously restoring the hamlet and land, and Shobha, who runs the retreat centre,  that after 7 years was now fully booked as it had a great reputation.

It was they who eventually suggested a potential piece of available land that sounded ideal. Just a week after his return to Gozo, his current home, Xavier returned to Portugal with his father to view it - the proposed land did not quite hit the mark, but led to the ‘Garden of Eden’ that Xavier purchased two days later: four hectares of forest in a valley near the village of Figueiró dos Vinhos.

Just a few weeks later, the worst forest fires in Portuguese history burnt over 44,996 hectares in three days and killed 66 people. The first Xavier knew of the fires was through messages from friends asking him if he was okay. As he took in the shocking images and horrific reports, he realised that he had just invested all his savings into an area with real environmental problems. But rather than being driven to despair, he and Arantxa embarked on a journey of eco-restoration that has unfolded in unexpected ways.

Miguel and Shobha had experienced the fire first-hand. Their accounts of how they escaped the fire, and the destruction it left behind, was shocking and heart-rending, but it also gave hope, as their home and the retreat centre were miraculously spared. "In truth, it was like an initiation. The fire magically surrounded our hamlet and left a green island in the middle of a valley of charcoal," remarked Miguel.

Miguel started on a journey of learning, observation and understanding why areas of their land were spared. It inspired him to attend a Permaculture Design course on resilience and regeneration of damaged landscape, where the instructor focused on the restoration of Gravito. Then, Miguel decided to expand his study into syntropic forest agriculture, soil regeneration and water landscaping. With the help of great allies, he began a project of land regeneration and development, implementing two successful stages:

●      Creating a water-landscaped agro-forest consisting of terraces, reservoirs and syntropic forest lines, full of biodiversity and indigenous plant species to regenerate the burned land.

●      Hosting events with area specific experts to share their knowledge and offer first-hand experience with anyone who is interested in forestry and permaculture design.

Three months after the fires, Xavier returned to Portugal with a high level of anxiety. He had no idea how the fires had affected his ‘Garden of Eden.’ Driving through kilometre after kilometre of blackened forest wasteland for more than an hour before reaching his land was one of the saddest experiences of his life. But as he drove over the brow of the hill which overlooks his land, he discovered a green oasis: the heart of the valley, like Gravito, had been miraculously spared.

Miguel and Xavier became allies as they began to understand how the exploitation of the surrounding land, by over-planting Eucalyptus trees that feed the paper industry, had destroyed the indigenous forests, lost wildlife habitats and depleted the topsoil from nutrients, while creating a constant threat of extreme forest fires, as had just been experienced. Something had to change.

Rather than simply replanting Eucalyptus, as was happening in earnest since the fire, the plantations needed to be replaced with biodiverse alternatives. But Xavier and Miguel recognised an uphill battle in the face of such poor forest management, when it is estimated that the eucalyptus industry contributes to 4.9% of Portuguese exports - an estimated net worth of over 3 billion euros. It’s no wonder that Portugal has approximately 10% of its land mass covered with this tree of fire.

They recognised a need to begin a long process of removing the dangers of super-fires caused by the Eucalyptus plantations, and the only effective way to move forward is through education - by demonstrating that there is another way to nurture the land sustainably and simultaneously benefit everyone’s investment. Only the implementation of a full eco-restoration project could achieve this goal, and Xavier and Miguel committed to investing all their available funds, energy and time to enable the journey towards rewilding the land. Family and friends stepped in with donations and the process began.

Heavy machinery was brought in to clear over seven hectares of fire-damaged forest, burying all biomass to trap the carbon. A blank canvas was created to implement a ‘ground-up’ forest management plan which would introduce a system of syntropic agro forestry - with its focus on biodiversity, introducing strata levels found in a natural forest that increase the planting density of trees - as well as water management and human interaction.

At the beginning of 2021, the projects were blessed with a sponsorship consisting of  two earth-moving machines, a JCB 3cx and a 2.6 tonne mini-digger, to be operated by Pete and Cyn, a husband and wife team who left Malta in 2019 to live on the land. Their full-time commitment to the project has propelled the plans forward dramatically. They have implemented terraces and natural reservoirs that fill up with rain water run off, soak-away pools to manage the excess water during heavy rains, and swales to slow the progress of water from the hillside and dramatically increase ground water to benefit any tree that will be planted in the future.

Once these interventions have been completed, it is time to start the regeneration aspect of the project:

●      The introduction of a wide mixture of nutrient-rich resources to the existing soil: wood chips, compost, manure, biochar, minerals, straw, mulch and nitrogen-fixing plants, all soaked in a natural compost and mycelium tea.

●      Creating the foundations for more than 100 species of trees, shrubs and bushes which they aim to plant, with the help of biologists and volunteers.  Sourced from local nurseries.

Emergent Trees price range € 10 - € 50

Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)
Maple (Acer Platanoides)
Spanish Cyprus (Cupressus Sempervirens)
Citron Pepper Poplar (Populus Alba)
Italian Alder (Alnus Cordata)
Stone Pine (Pinus Pinea)
Cedar (Cebrus Attantica / Cedro)
Ash Tree (Fraxinus Excelsior)
Walnut (Juglans Regia)
Chestnut (Castanea Sativa)

High Strata Trees price range € 4 - € 35

Plane Tree (Platanus)
Lime Tree (Tilla Cordata)
Almond Tree (Prunus Dulcis)
Hazel Nut (Corylus Avellana)
Fig Tree (Ficus Carica)
Nespera (Eriobotrya Japonica)
Cedar (Cedrus Deodara)
Rowan (Serbus Aucuparia)
Ash (Fraxinus Angustifolia)
Tulip Tree (Liriodendron Tulipfera)
China Berry (Melia Azedarach)
Black Mullberry (Morus Nigra)
Weeping Pagoda Tree (Sophora Japonica)

Fruit and Low Strata Trees price range € 3.50 - € 30

Avocado (Persea Americana)avocado
Plum (Prunus Domestica)
Cherry (Prunus Serotina)
Peach (Prunus Persica)
Orange (Citrus Sinensis)
Lemon (Citrus Limon)
Lime (Citrus Limetta)
Apple (Malus Domestica)
Pear (Pyrus Communis)
Grapefruit (Citrus Paradisi)
Custard Apple (Annona Reticulata)
Medronheiro (Arbutus Unedo)
Elder Flower (Sambucus Nigra)
Bay Leaf (Laurus Nobillis)
Holly (llex Aquifolium)
Tea Tree (Leptospermum)
Pomegranate (Punica Granatum)
Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis Leylandi)
Irish Yew (Taxus Balata Fastigiata)
Northern White Cedar (Thuja Ollidentalis)

Shrubs & Bushes price range € 1.50 - € 20 
WHO WILL RECEIVE THE FUNDS?

The funds raised will be divided as follows:

The Go Fund Me Platform takes a commission of approximately 6.4% which totals € 2,925

Of the remaining funds:

Gravito will receive 25%
Libelineha Venture will receive 75%

HOW WILL THE MONEY BE SPENT?

Gravito will plant 200 meters of Syntropic forest over an area of 1000m² 

Libelineha Venture will plant 600 meters of Syntropic Line over an area of 3000m² 

It costs € 500 for every 10 meters of Syntropic line, that regenerates an area of 50m². This is broken down as follows:

Tree's, Shrubs and Bushes € 200
Fuel and Maintenance for Machines € 50
Straw € 5
Manure € 15
Seeds € 10
Bulbs € 30
Green Manure € 40
Irrigation € 50
Experts, Staff & Volunteers € 100 

800 meters of line = €40,000 

The remaining funds will be used to cover volunteer overheads who's task will be to collect seeds and seedlings from the local  indigenous forests and replant them in the areas between the terraces that have been created. This will start the process of spreading the indigenous trees beyond the rivers (which is the only place they are located at present). 

WHEN WILL THE MONEY BE SPENT?

The optimal planting season is between November and April so the ideal result will be that we raise the funds by the end of March so the trees can be planted by the end of April. However, if the funds arrive after this time then we will hold on until the the end of this year, when the next optimal planting season is upon us.  

WHAT DO YOU RECEIVE IN RETURN FOR YOUR DONATION ?


€ 10             We thank you for you donation 

€ 25             You can gain access to a volunteer program

€ 50             We plant a tree in your name and email you a picture and a geo-                                         location

€ 100          We send a PDF of an information pack

€ 250           You receive an invitation to join a webinar where we will discuss the                                project in more detail

€ 500           You sponsor  50m2 of land regeneration with high quality syntropic                                agro-forestry engineering photographed and geo-located

€ 750           You receive a 25% discount on a one-week hands-on experience                                        course at one of the pilot projects

€ 1000        You receive a 50% discount on a one-week hands on experience                                        course at one of the pilot projects

We thank you for reading through this funding campaign information, and would like to invite you to join this journey with us to "Rewild the Future" helping us on this mission of eco-restoration, moving from a mindset of exploitation to sustainability. 

www.rewildthefuture.com
www.gravito.co.uk/projects/
https://www.facebook.com/libelinhaventure Gravito after the fires 
Digging swales by hand 
Gravito on the path to recovery 
Bringing in the bulldozers to create reverse terraces for the syntropic lines
The Area of land at Libelinha Venture to be reforested 
Sorting Cork Oak Acorns for planting 
Group on a weekend hands on experience course 

A short clip of why we are doing this

Gravito's first steps after the 2017 fire

Planting Crystal Oak Slopes

Out of the Ashes Documentary 
  • Tasja Eiselt 
    • €10 
    • 5 mos
  • Rozemarijn Van West 
    • €30 
    • 9 mos
  • Marco Trovato 
    • €111 
    • 15 mos
  • Francesca Di Cesare 
    • €20 
    • 15 mos
  • Lola Labro 
    • €10 
    • 16 mos
See all

Organizer

Xavier Hancock 
Organizer
Ervideira, Resende, Portugal

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