Land use, landscape and sustainability: examples from Montesinho Chapter uri icon


  • The traditional and multifunctional landscapes of Montesinho Natural Park (PNM), with their typical complexes of agro-, silvo- and pastoral components, changed thoroughly during past decades. Historical, social, economic and cultural factors, such as poor communications, biophysical events, and direct contact with nature in everyday life should be taken into account to explain its present land use pattern. The current land use patterns are based in an ancestral arrangement of factors resulting from a combination of two main parameters: water availability and village proximity, both of them highly dependent of the topographic circumstances. As a result, four main land use groups must be considered: vegetable gardens and orchards near village streams margins, mainly over Fluvisols; meadows along the streams, also over Fluvisols; open cereal fields around the village, frequently over Dystric Cambisols and Leptosols; and more or less wooded open land outside th is agricultural matrix, on Umbric Leptosols (IPB/ICN, 2006). The last one, the open woodland matrix, is the largest component of PNM landscape. Essentially. it 'is an export ecosystem: shrubs, firewood. pasture, but al so, rock outcrops, honey, etc. In contrast, the vegetable gardens and orchards benefit greatly from human and animal labor manure and water, in order to produce the seasonal fresh food to complement the inhabitants' diet, which is mainly based on cereals and meal. The meadows are, or were, essentially a “power'” ecosystem feeding cattle used to plough fields. The open cereal fields ultimately provide bread, the basis of human life.

publication date

  • 2010