James Richardson

MA Landscape Architecture

Portugal, like much of continental Europe, has experienced unsustainable changes in land use derived from European policy, resulting in increased desertification as well as fire risk. The resulting abandonment of the land by rural population presents problems as well as opportunities. A lack of significant employment, relative isolation and poor education prevent young people from staying. But the process is not irreversible. 

By re-introducing sustainable land uses and by creating a new economy in the newly vacant land, it is possible to reverse the desertification process, reduce fire risk and provide employment. 

It is possible to re-wild the land - re-introducing a decay cycle, a water cycle and ecological succession for the benefit of people and natural systems. A robust agricultural system can withstand a changing climate, alongside returning predators such as wolves, which can prove to be an economic asset through nature based tourism.

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